This is essentially saying that those in question invented their own nonsensical chants and psalms and attributed them to or gave them equal status to the Psalms of king David... Once again this is a chilling indictment on modern Christian worship music which so often claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and yet is worded in such a way as to express the nonsensical emotion of the fallen nature.
Amos 6 (Author’s translation)
1 Oiy, woe, alas to those who are at ease feeling secure in Zion, and to those who trust in the mountain of Samaria, and the appointed heads of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes. 2 Pass over to Chalneh from there to Chamat then go down to the great Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, with greater territory than your territory? 3 Do you put away the day of evil, and draw near a seat of cruelty? 4 Those who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattened cattle, 5 Who make up nonsensical chants upon the face of the pitcher (jug), for David they esteem, and they invent of themselves songs, 6 Who drink in bowls of wine and anoint their heads with oils—yet they have not grieved over the shattering of Joseph. 7 Therefore, they will now go into captivity at the head of the exiles, and the feasting cry of those who stretch out (lounge) will depart. 8 The Lord YHVH has sworn by His soul, YHVH the God/Judge Who goes warring has declared: “I abhor the majesty of Yaakov, and his palaces I hate; and I will deliver up a city and all that is in it.” 9 And it will come to pass, if ten men are left in one house, they will die. 10 And a man’s uncle will lift him up and burn him, and bring out bone substance from the house, and say to the one who is at the sides of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “None.” Then he will answer, “Hold your tongue!” For the name of YHVH the Lord is not remembered. 11 For behold, now, pay attention YHVH the Lord has commanded and will smite the great house into fragments and the little house to rubble. 12 Do horses run on rocks? Or does one yoke them with oxen for ploughing? Yet you have turned judgement into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (bitterness), 13 You who rejoice in Lodebar (nothing), and say, “By our strength have we not taken Karnayim?” 14 “For behold, now, pay attention, I am going to raise up upon you, house of Israel,” declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord God/Judge the One Who goes warring, “A nation, and they will oppress you from the entrance of Chamat to the wadi (river bed) of the wilderness.”
Amos 6 (Line Upon Line)
1 Ho Oiy, woe, alas hasha’ananiym to those who are at ease feeling secure betziyon in Zion (parched place), vehabotechiym and to those who trust behar in the mountain of Shomeron Samaria (guardians), and nekuveiy the appointed (to pierce) reishiyt heads of hagoyim the nations, uvau lahem beiyt Yisrael to whom the house of Israel comes.
1 Oiy, woe, alas to those who are at ease feeling secure in Zion, and to those who trust in the mountain of Samaria, and the appointed heads of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.
Both Judah (Zion being the seat of king David’s power) and Israel (the northern tribes whose kings held court in Samaria) are being warned concerning their idolatrous faith in their own strength.
Zion is used in Scripture to describe both the mountain located in Jerusalem and the entire land and or, people of Israel. Therefore, it is possible that Zion is used here as being synonymous with Israel, however, given that Amos is of Judah and that while the focus of his prophecy has been on the northern kingdoms there has nonetheless been earlier rebuke of Judah, it is most likely that both kingdoms and therefore all twelve tribes are being called out for their idolatrous behaviour, and the sin of trusting in their own strength rather than trusting in God.
Regardless, the latter clause “those who trust in the mountain of Samaria, and the appointed heads of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes.” Is specifically addressed to the northern tribes who gather at the mountain city of Samaria under the northern king and in order to practice apostate worship in an intentional act of defiance against the appointed place of worship, Mt Zion in Jerusalem.
The phrase “appointed heads of the nations” is a reference to the fact that the northern tribes had made agreements with the nations they perceived to be strong and thus trusted not only in their own strength but also in the added strength of alliances with godless nations.
The Targum understands the phrase “appointed heads of the nations” somewhat differently, paraphrasing the text to read:
"put the name of their children, as the name of the children of the nations;''
While this seems an unlikely interpretation, it does nonetheless point to the coming exile by inferring that Israelis will give their children foreign names during the future captivity in order to make their lives easier as strangers in a land not their own.
2 Ivru Pass over to Chalneh (fortress of Anu: Assyrian/Babylonian) misham from there to Chamat (fortress, upper Syria) rabah uredu then go down to the great Gat-Pelishtiym (wine vat of immigrants) Gath of the Philistines. Hatoviym min-hamamlachot haeileh Are they better than these kingdoms, im-rav with greater gevulam territory migevulchem than your territory?
2 Pass over to Chalneh from there to Chamat then go down to the great Gath of the Philistines. Are they better than these kingdoms, with greater territory than your territory?
In short, “Go and take a tour around the region, as far east as Chalneh in Babylon, north to the great city of Chamat located between Damascus and the Mediterranean sea, and finally south to Gath, the pride of the Philistines. Do Chalneh, Chamat, and Gath, exceed the grandeur, wealth and strength that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah have been given?”
The answer is of course “No”. God had given Israel a land rich with produce and grandeur and yet she had looked elsewhere, not satisfied with the gift of YHVH.
3 Hamnadiym Do you put away leyom the day of ra evil, vatagiyshun and draw near shevet a seat of chamas cruelty?
3 Do you put away the day of evil, and draw near a seat of cruelty?
“Do you put away the day of evil” means, “Based on your belief that you are strong of yourselves and the delusional view that the day of the LORD will be one of light for you, you have put the day of the LORD out of your thoughts, a day that for you will be a day of evil in the sense of darkness, torment and destruction.”
“and draw near a seat of cruelty” means, having rejected the warning of the prophets and having chosen to turn their backs on God, they have instead entered into an intimate relationship with vile acts of cruelty, the oppression of the poor, the rape of women, the murder of those who threaten their worldly ambitions and so on.
The translation “seat of violence” is not accurate, given that in and of itself violence is neither good nor evil but is informed by good or evil. Therefore, “cruelty” better conveys the Hebrew “chamas”. A prophetic and poignant translation given the modern terrorist organisation Hamas, whose modus operandi is cruelty even in the treatment of those they claim to be freeing from the so called tyranny of the modern state of Israel.
4 Hashocheviym Those who lie al-mitot on beds shein of ivory, useruchiym and stretch out al-arsotam on their couches, ve’ocheliym and eat kariym lambs mitzon from the flock, va’agaliym and calves mitoch from the midst marbek of the fattened cattle,
4 Those who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattened cattle,
Once again the imagery depicts the rulers, uber rich and uncaring aristocracy of the northern tribes. Ivory was a valuable commodity and the act of lounging on beds made from it accentuates the palpable disregard for matters of justice and right action. This is coupled with gluttony, the consumption of the best of Israel’s cattle, some of which should have been offered in Jerusalem according to Torah, but was nonetheless being eaten by the upper class, who had decided that they themselves were the deities who deserved these offerings.
The phrase “eat the lambs from the flock” contains a remez (hint) at deeper meaning. Israel is the flock of HaShem and the wicked among the rich upper class were devouring the innocent lambs of Israel, both physically and metaphorically as the analogy applies to apostasy and the leading astray of the vulnerable young.
5 Haporetiym Who make up nonsensical chants al-piy upon the face hanavel of the pitcher (jug), kedaviyd for David chashevu they esteem, invent lehem of themselves shiyr songs,
5 Who make up nonsensical chants upon the face of the pitcher (jug), for David they esteem, and they invent of themselves songs,
This is essentially saying that those in question invented their own nonsensical chants and psalms and attributed them to or gave them equal status to the Psalms of king David. This is utterly abhorrent because it not only misappropriates David’s name but more importantly makes the false inference that their words are inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Once again this is a chilling indictment on modern Christian worship music which so often claims to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and yet is worded in such a way as to express the nonsensical emotion of the fallen nature.
6 Hashotiym Who drink bemizrekei in bowls yayin of wine vereishiyt shemaniym yimshachu and anoint their heads with oils— velo yet they have not nechlu grieved al-sheiver over the shattering Yosef (Yah adds) of Joseph.
6 Who drink in bowls of wine and anoint their heads with oils—yet they have not grieved over the shattering of Joseph (Yah adds).
The wine drunk in sacred bowls is an allusion to the worship of deities accredited with the grape harvest, and the oils, in part made from the life sustaining olive oil of the land, are perfumed and hoarded at the expense of the poor. Thus, oil that might have feed the poor is used to adorn the rich for no other reason than to make them smell nice.
We do the same today when we use perfume made in the sweatshops of foreign countries where the poor are kept under a cycle of oppression in order to sustain western demand for perfumed commodities.
“yet they have not grieved over the shattering of Joseph (Yah adds).” The plain meaning regards the sin of the brothers of Joseph in selling him into slavery, this ancient sin being committed in another form against the destitute of the northern kingdom during the time of Amos.
The rulers and wealthy elite have shown a lack of care for the well-being of all Israel, indulgence having given birth to complacency, and a hardening of heart. Joseph (Yah adds) is used here as a synonym for Israel and hints (remez) at the disregard shown for the fact that YHVH has added blessing to Israel.
7 Lachein Therefore, atah they will now yiglu go into captivity berosh at the head goliym of the exiles, vesar mirzach seruchiym and the feasting cry of those who stretch out (lounge) will depart.
7 Therefore, they will now go into captivity at the head of the exiles, and the feasting cry of those who stretch out (lounge) will depart.
Those who have been guilty of the aforementioned oppression of the weak and vulnerable will be the first to go into exile. Just as they share in the guilt of selling Joseph into slavery so too they will be punished by being made slaves.
The text is a type of Hebrew word play which places the roshiym (heads) of Israel at the rosh (head) of the line leading into captivity. This is an ironic twist on the “first shall be last”. Here the “first shall be last by being first”.
8 Nishba Adonay The Lord (Master) YHVH (Mercy) has sworn benafsho by His soul, neum YHVH (Mercy) Eloheiy the God/Judge tzevaot Who goes warring has declared: “Metaeiv anochiy I abhor et-ge’on the majesty of Yaakov (follower), ve’armenotayv and his palaces saneitiy I hate; vehisgartiy and I will deliver up iyr a city umeloh and all that is in it.”
8 The Lord YHVH has sworn by His soul, YHVH the God/Judge Who goes warring has declared: “I abhor the majesty of Yaakov, and his palaces I hate; and I will deliver up a city and all that is in it.”
HaShem swears by Himself, His soul, character, essence, being, because there is none greater than He. He swears these things in mercy, which proceeds from His holiness. He swears as God and Judge, and as He Who goes warring to save His people from a fate worse than death, that is the second death (eternal punishment).
To YHVH belongs all majesty, therefore, the majesty which Yaakov (Israel) has manufactured for herself He despises.
The Hebrew text does not say “the city” as many wrongly translate but “a city”. Thus, for the purpose of disciplining His beloved children in order to return them to life everlasting, He will deliver up each and every city of Israel into the hands of the Assyrians, and subsequently into the hands of the Babylonians.
9 Vehayah And it will come to pass, im-yivateru asarah anashiym if ten men are left bevayit echad in one house, vametu they will die.
9 And it will come to pass, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.
Those who are left of the northern kingdom, who are not taken into captivity, will die.
10 Unesa’o dodo umesarefo And a man’s uncle, will lift him up and burn him, lehotziy and bring out atzamiym bone substance min-habayit from the house, veamar and say la’asher beyarketeiy habayit to the one who is at the sides of the house, “ha’od imach Is anyone else with you?” veamar And that one will say, “Afes Zero, none.” Veamar Then he will answer, “Has Hold your tongue!” Kiy lo lehazkiyr besheim YHVH For the name of the Lord is not remembered.
10 And a man’s uncle, will lift him up and burn him, and bring out bone substance from the house, and say to the one who is at the sides of the house, “Is anyone else with you?” And that one will say, “None.” Then he will answer, “Hold your tongue!” For the name of YHVH the Lord is not remembered.
The bodies of Israel’s dead are to be interred in order to await the physical resurrection and Yom haDin (the Day of Judgement: Day of the LORD). The burning of an Israeli body is an abhorrent violation, but it will be the only option for those who remain, because the dead and rotting corpses of Israel will be so prolific and the remnant so few that they will not be able to bury them, thus leaving burning as the only means of preventing the spread of diseases associated with corpses. This is why the “uncle” asks “is anyone else with you?” The answer is “No one”. There is no one to help. The Targum says “they have all perished”.
“Then he will answer, “Hold your tongue!” For the name of YHVH the Lord is not remembered.” This is interpreted in a number of ways. Here are three possibilities:
a.“Be silent, because while the one we are burying was alive he never called on the Name of YHVH.”
b.“Why bother calling on the Name YHVH, He has brought this upon us, He has firmly established this.”
c.“They say ‘Don’t bother crying out to the gods we thought would save us, they can’t save’. They say this because they have long since neglected to remember the One True God YHVH Who is able and willing to save those who repent and call on Him.”
The Targum reads:
"he shall say, remove (the dead), since while they lived they did not pray in the name of the Lord.''
11 Kiy For hineih behold, now, pay attention YHVH (Mercy) the Lord metzaveh has commanded vehikah and will smite habayit hagadol the great house, resiysiym into fragments vehabayit hakaton and the little house beki’iym to rubble.
11 For behold, now, pay attention YHVH the Lord has commanded and will smite the great house into fragments and the little house to rubble.
The judgement of God that will enact justice has been firmly established against the perpetual sin of the northern tribes.
The great house can be understood to refer to the king of the northern tribes and the little house to the common people. It may also be a reference to two distinct houses of apostate worship in the north.
Alternatively, if the Targum’s rendering is correct, it refers to the northern kingdom as the great house (having the majority of tribes) and the southern kingdom of Judah as being the little house (Judah & Benjamin).
“he will smite the great kingdom with a mighty stroke, and the little kingdom with a weak stroke.” – Targum Yonatan (2nd Century C.E. Aramaic)
12 Hayrutzun basela susiym Do horses run on rocks? Im yacharush babekariym Or does one yoke them with oxen for ploughing? Kiy hafachtem lerosh mishpat Yet you have turned judgement into poison, uferiy and the fruit tzedakah of righteousness lela’anah into wormwood (bitterness),
12 Do horses run on rocks? Or does one yoke them with oxen for ploughing? Yet you have turned judgement into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood (bitterness),
These are of course rhetorical questions. These examples expose the immoral practice of swapping good for evil and vice versa. Israel had made poison of her judicial practices and had polluted the fruit of the righteous with vile acts of debauchery.
13 Hasemeichiym lelo davar You who rejoice in Lodebar (no word, thing), haomeriym and say, “Halo vechazekeinu By our strength have we not lakachnu lanu taken Karnayim (horn, a town of the region of Bashan)?”
13 You who rejoice in Lodebar (nothing), and say, “By our strength have we not taken Karnayim?”
Lo debar was a city southeast of the Kinneret (Galilee) in Gilead not far from Mahanaim, north of the Jabbok river (2 Samuel 9:4–5). Karnayim, also in the territory of Gilead, was directly east of the Kinneret (Galilee). It had been taken by Manasseh and was at the time a badge of honour reflecting their perceived strength.
The meanings of the names of these two locations speaks of how God will turn Israel’s strength into weakness, just as they have sought to turn morality on its head.
Lo Debar literally translates as “No thing (word)” and Karnayim “Horns (strength)”, the message being “There will be no strength in your words”, and “You will reap nothing from your strength!”
14 “Kiy For hin’niy behold, now, pay attention, I am going to meikiym raise up aleiychem upon you, beiyt Yisrael house of Israel,” neum declares YHVH (Mercy) the Lord Eloheiy God/Judge Hatzevaot the One Who goes warring, “Goy A nation velachatzu And they will oppress etchem you milevo from the entrance of Chamat (fortress, upper Syria) ad-nachal to the wadi (river bed) ha’aravah of the wilderness.”
14 “For behold, now, pay attention, I am going to raise up upon you, house of Israel,” declares YHVH the Lord God/Judge the One Who goes warring, “A nation, and they will oppress you from the entrance of Chamat to the wadi (river bed) of the wilderness.”
This is prophetic of the Assyrians and subsequently the Babylonians. Yet again Mercy the Judge goes warring to save His children. He will do so through discipline, sending the invading armies through the entire land of Israel from Chamat (part of the northern border of the land (Numbers 34.1–9), all the way down to the desert stream bed in the south that borders the wilderness of Sinai. This links the coming exile to the ancient captivity of Egypt. It will be a return to bondage which reflects Israel’s turning away from God and His life giving instruction (Torah), and toward the bondage of idolatry, sin and death. However, there is hope of redemption ahead.
Copyright 2022 Yaakov Brown
The oppression of others is born of the oppression of self. Apostasy and rebellion against God results when we forget our value in His eyes.
After addressing the hypocrisy of Israel’s fasting, Isaiah 58 ends with the hope and heritage of Jacob (Israel) illuminated through repentance and redemption. Now the prophet Isaiah begins an additional rebuke concerning the root of Israel’s sin and the resulting separation which Israel has manufactured between herself and HaShem. Thus, the prophetic rhythm of promised Salvation followed by sober rebuke continues the cyclical message of God’s mercy toward Israel preceding His judgement of her. The ultimate result being everlasting life.
59:1 Hein Behold, now, pay attention, lo-katzerah not shortened (small) yad-YHVH is the hand (strength) of HaShem (Mercy) meihoshia from saving ve'lo kavedah and not dull azeno is His ear mishemoa from hearing.
The sense here is that Israel might be wondering why she is not delivered already, given her attention to fasting (albeit hypocritical), and her vain assent to the Torah Instruction of HaShem. Thus, the reminder that God is more than able, and even willing to save, more than able and even willing to hear (Isa.58:3). Therefore, there is another reason for Israel’s predicament.
The Targum puts it beautifully:
“Behold, it is not on account of any deficiency in the power of the Lord that ye are not saved; nor because it is too difficult for Him to hear, that your prayer is not received:” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“And we find (viz.Sanhedrin 98a) that in the days of R. Yehoshua ben Levi he was told (viz. Tehillim 95:6) that the Messiah would come ‘today, if you hearkened to His voice’ — even though the time of the exile decreed for Israel (one thousand years, corresponding to the one thousand year "day" of the Holy One Blessed be He, had not yet passed [viz. Chida, Petach Eiynayim, Sanhedrin, Ibid.])” -Chofetz Chaim Preface 4
59:2 kiy For im-avonoteiychem with your perversity, depravity, hayu has come mavdiliym dividings, separations beineichem among you levein between you and Eloheiychem your God vechatoteiychem and your sins histiyru have hidden His paniym face (faces) from you mikem so as mishemoa not to hear.
“But your iniquities separate between you and your God, and your sins have caused Him to take away the favour of His Shekinah from you, not to receive your prayer.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
We note that the perversity of Israel has produced the fruit of separations and divisions between them and God. Thus, the manifestation of division in their social order is evidence of the separation they have made between them and God in the spiritual order. We note further that the sins of Israel have caused God to appear hidden from them, likewise the appearance that He has not heard them. Therefore, although God is all powerful they have refused to receive His power, and although He is all knowing (hearing), it is they who have blocked their ears to His voice.
“Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.” -Ezekiel 18:30 (NIV)
“In those days people will no longer say,
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
Instead, everyone will die for their own sin;
whoever eats sour grapes--
their own teeth will be set on edge.” -Jeremiah 31:29-30 (NIV)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Messiah Yeshua.” -Romans 3:23-24
59:3 Kiy For chapeiychem your palms (hands) negoalu are defiled, polluted, desecrated vadam in blood ve'etzbeoteiychem and your fingers beavon in perversity, depravity siftoteiychem your lips, language, diberu-sheker have spoken lies leshonchem your tongue avlah tehgeh plots injustice.
Figuratively speaking the hands denote actions, the fingers accusation, the lips and language sedition.
We note that the palms of the hands are defiled with blood. This denotes contemplation of the aftermath of sinful action. Sins of blood are for the most part capital offenses (according to the Torah): murder, abortion etc. They must be atoned for in blood.
It is interesting to note that the Talmud explains each element in correlation with the several roles of a court of justice; the ‘hands’ are the judges; the ‘fingers’ of, the Scribes; the ‘lips’ are advocates and solicitors; and the ‘tongue’ is the adversaries, or the contending parties. (T. Bab. Sabbat. fol. 139. 1.)
Given the obvious correlation between the present passage and the adjudicators of Israel, it is safe to say that Israel’s rulers, judges and Torah scribes are in part, leading Israel in the sins for which she is to be held accountable.
59:4 Eiyn-korei None call out ve'tzedek in righteousness ve'eiyn and none nishpat judges be'emunah in faithfulness; batoach they trust al-tohu upon formless vanity ve'daver-shav and speak empty falsehood haro conceiving amal trouble veholeiyd bringing forth aven wickedness.
“There is none that truly prays, nor any that pleads for faithfulness: they trust in vanity and speak lies; they hasten, and bring forth words of violence out of their heart.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
The judicial issues alluded to implicitly in the former verse are now illuminated in the present verse. In a God honouring society righteousness, just judgement, faithfulness, order and truth are essential. In Israel at this time the opposite forces of unrighteousness, unjust judgement, infidelity, disorder, and lies were made manifest as a result of Israel’s rejection of relationship with her God YHVH.
There is a progression of the breaking down of moral society in this verse. A lack of righteousness is at the root of Israel’s problem. Not human righteousness but rather the righteousness that comes from God and is imparted to human beings through blood atonement and redemption. Israel has turned her heart away from HaShem, and as a result the heart of HaShem is unknown to her, in spite of her pious performance. Therefore, no one calls from a righteous inner being and as a result no one judges faithfully. It is of course impossible for someone who has chosen to trust in themselves to act out of the faithfulness of God, rather it is from their fallen nature of unfaithfulness that they judge.
Rather than trusting in HaShem Israel had chosen to trust in “tohu” empty, formless things. This is a figurative reference to idolatry and a reference to the formless void that preceded the creation of the earth (Genesis 1). It is important to note that the uncreated light precedes the created darkness and emptiness of the Genesis account. Further, truth and light are emanations (attributes) of the Creator, and therefore, are not subject to the created order. Whereas, emptiness, vanity and darkness are subject to the created order.
As a result of trusting in false gods Israel bears the fruit of lying lips and her thoughts conceive mischief which results in wickedness.
Therefore, the root causes of unrighteousness and rebellion (idolatry) are wreaking havoc on Israel (Judah) during the reign of Manasseh (lifetime of Isaiah). These are the things Israel had chosen for herself.
59:5 Beiytzeiy Eggs tzifoniy of a poisonous serpent bikeiu they hatch vekureiy and a web akaviysh of a spider ye'erogu they weave: haocheil the eating mibeiytzeiyhem of their eggs yamut has killed vehazureh and the crushed eggs tibaka break open revealing efeh snakes.
The serpent is associated to sin and the demonic forces that seek to ensnare humanity. It is also literally connected to plague (Numbers 21) and the death of the serpent is figurative of an end to sin and death (Numbers 21:8-9; Genesis 3:14-15; Revelation 12:9; 20:2, 10). Israel is said to be enabling the hatchlings of serpents. It is in the perfect tense meaning that it has and continues to be happening in her midst. Therefore, the poison of evil has been invited and has become invasive.
The web of a spider is a snare for its prey. It is also easily torn apart by larger animals and human beings. Therefore, what idolatrous Israel intends as a snare for others will be easily torn apart by the hand of God.
The figurative consumption of the eggs, poisons the inner person and any attempt to crush them results in the birth of more poisonous snakes that in turn lay eggs and perpetuate the cycle of evil in the midst of the people.
59:6 Kureiyhem Their webs lo-yihyu don’t become leveged garments (deceit) velo yitkasu and don't cover be'ma'aseiyhem over their works ma'aseiyhem after works: ma'aseiy-aven works of wickedness ufoal and the deed chamas of violence, cruelty bechapeiyhem is on their palms (hands).
“Behold, like a spider's web, with which no one can be covered, thus there is no profit from the works of the wicked; their works are the works of violence, and the work of a lie is in their hands.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
A spiders web is unsuitable for use as a garment. It is full of holes, therefore, not cover the naked body. Nor is it a suitable shelter from poor weather. Therefore, figuratively speaking it is not able to cover the many wicked works of apostate Israel.
Ultimately this refers back to idolatrous Israel’s blood guilt and the consequence of it, which is death.
59:7 Ragleiyhem Their feet la'ra to evil yarutzu have run viymaharu and make haste lishpoch to shed dam nakiy innocent blood machshevoteiyhem their thoughts machshevot are thoughts aven of wickedness, shod havoc vashever and crushing bimsilotam is in their raised roads.
Not only is Israel guilty of the most heinous of physical sins against her fellow man (bloodletting, murder), she is chasing after opportunities to murder the innocent. In addition her thoughts are focused on plotting wicked acts and the result is that any metaphorical roads she might build become the paths that lead to her own destruction.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” -Romans 3:15-17 (NIV)
59:8 Derech A way shalom of peace, wholeness, wellbeing lo yadau they don't know ve'eiyn mishpat and no judgement, justice; bemagelotam their tracks netivoteihem trodden with their feet ikeshu are crooked lehem they kol dorech all lead to lo yada shalom no knowledge of peace, wholeness, wellbeing.
Rebellious Israel don’t know the way of peace and wholeness because they have rejected Peace Himself (HaShem). Therefore, they lack judgement and justice as a society. As a consequence of Israel’s lack of peace she treads crooked paths (idolatrous ways), all of which promise peace (spiritual enlightenment, prosperity etc.) but offer none. Thus, idolatrous Israel have no knowledge of Peace Himself.
59:9 Al-kein And truly therefore, rachak we have become far mishpat from justice mimenu as a result ve’lo and nor tasigeinu tzedakah does righteousness overtake us; nekaveh hoping expectantly we look la'or to the light (uncreated) ve'hinei-choshech and behold, pay attention, darkness (created) lingohot to brightness ba'afeilot in gloom nehaleich we walk.
We note that the language usage changes adopting the pronoun “we”. Therefore, the speakers in verse 9 through 13 are those who have soberly accessed the state of Israel in light of God’s Torah Instruction (and by the Word of the Prophets), and have found their people wanting. This is the righteous remnant, who, like the prophets, confess on behalf of their entire nation. The tragic conclusion of their observation bringing heart break to their souls.
“And truly therefore” means, because of our perversity and depravity, and our separating ourselves from God (v.2). Due to the blood on our hands, our mistreatment of our neighbours (pointing of the finger), our lying lips and our plotting wickedness (v.3). In light of the fact that we don’t demand righteousness or judge fairly, and trust in vain idolatry, speaking falsehood and acting wickedly as a result (v.4). Because we release the demonic and clothe ourselves with the worthless covering of the weak traps we set for others (v.5). Due to the fact that we multiply the work of our depravity and continue to do violence to others (v.6). In light of the fact that we run toward evil and rush to shed innocent blood, and that our thoughts are constantly set on perversity as we pursue paths that will crush us under the weight of our own sin (v.7). Finally, because we do not know a way of peace, wholeness and wellbeing, nor do we know Peace Himself (HaShem YHVH, Sar Shalom, The Prince of Peace [King Messiah]): there is no justice and we tread out tracks of unrepentant evil action, ruts that all lead to us having no knowledge of the way of peace (v.8). Thus, we have moved ourselves far from justice, nor does righteousness come to us and surpass us (v.9).
“Hoping expectantly we look to the light and behold, pay attention, darkness to brightness, in gloom we walk.” Idolatrous Israel had wandered so far from God through her own false belief, thoughts and actions, that when she looked for the light (of God) she was unable to see Him, and when she so desperately needed for the path to be lit up, instead it was gloomy, oppressing her steps. All this being self-inflicted blindness, wilful sin, self-destruction. Israel is treasured by Hashem, she has unfathomable worth to Him, and yet she had become blind to her worth through the defiling of herself, and had forgotten the Creator Who alone is able to redeem, sanctify and restore her.
59:10 Negashah We grope, feeling with the hand chaivriym like blind ones kir for a wall uche'eiyn and like those having no eiynayim eyes; negasheishah we grope, feeling with the hand kashalnu we stumble vatzohorayim in the midday kaneshef as if it were twilight ba'ashmaniym in desolation kameitiym as in places of death.
The confession of the righteous remnant continues.
“We grope, feeling with the hand like blind ones for a wall” Such is Idolatrous Israel’s spiritual blindness that she is unable to find a wall against which to steady herself. Instead she gropes about in useless grasping attempts for even the slightest possibility of touching something secure.
“like those having no eyes” This is a reference to Israel’s spiritual state of blindness. Though they have eyes (the potential to see), none the less, they do not see.
“we stumble in the midday as if it were twilight” Like the former simile, the meaning is that while it should be easy, even normal for them to see and walk upright, none the less they stumble.
“in desolation as in places of death” Ultimately all sin leads to the desolation and domain of death.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” -Romans 5:12 (NKJV)
59:11 Nehemeh We growl kadubiym like bears kulanu all of us vechayoniym and like doves hagoh mourning nehgeh murmuring nekaveh we wait, looking with expectant hope lamishpat for judgement va'ayin and there is none, liyshua for salvation rachakah is far off mimenu on account of us.
“We all roar like bears by reason of our enemies, who are gathered against us, and mourn like doves: we hoped for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far removed from us.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
Both the growling of bears and the murmuring of doves are responses born of the expectation of something they long for. In the case of Israel they are longing for deliverance from their self-imposed desolation, and quite literally from the approaching Babylonian captivity.
“looking with expectant hope for judgement and there is none, for salvation is far off on account of us.” Idolatrous Israel hopes for a judgement in her favour but none comes. Why? Because God is just and Israel’s just recompense at this point in her history is desolation.
We note that “Salvation is far off on account of us.” Therefore, the righteous remnant recognise that Israel has caused her own demise. However, Salvation may seem far off but He is coming to her, not because Israel deserves salvation but because HaShem, Who gave her worth, is willing to suffer for and redeem her.
59:12 Kiy For rabu great, abundant feshaeiynu are our rebellions negdecha which are conspicuously in front of You vechatoteiynu and our sins anetah testify banu against us kiy-feshaeiynu for our rebellions itanu are with us va'avonoteiynu and our perversity yeda'anum we know.
The confession of the righteous remnant unreservedly acknowledges the guilt of the people. In the midst of Israel’s debauchery, as is still the case today, there is a righteous, God fearing remnant who cry out in confession and repentance on behalf of the people of Israel.
Neither the righteous remnant nor the people in general can deny the conspicuous nature of their individual and national sin. We note again that the root “pesha” meaning rebellion, the root “chat” meaning sin, and the root “avon”, meaning perversity, cover the full gambit of sin born of rebellion, idolatry, witchcraft.
“Our perversity we know” is in stark contrast to “A way shalom of peace, wholeness, wellbeing they don't know”.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9 (NKJV)
59:13 Pashoa Rebelling vechachesh and lying ba'YHVH against HaShem (Mercy) ve'nasog and sliding backward meiachar from Eloheiynu our God daber-oshek speaking oppression vesarah and defection (apostasy) horo conceiving vehogo and murmuring (meditating) meleiv from the inner person (heart, core being) divreiy-shaker words of falsehood.
“We have rebelled, and acted falsely against the Word of the Lord; we have turned backward from following after the worship of our God; we have spoken falsehood and apostasy, hastening and bringing forth from their hearts lying words.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
“Rebelling and lying against HaShem (Mercy) and sliding backward from our God” The tragic irony of rebelling against Mercy and turning away from the Judge that might acquit them, is not lost on Isaiah or the faithful remnant. We notice again that it is the sin of rebellion (idolatry, witchcraft) that is at the root of Israel’s lying against HaShem. Many today persist in trying to convince themselves of God’s demise, and thus turn their backs on their own redemption.
“speaking oppression and defection (apostasy)” The oppression of others is born of the oppression of self. Apostasy and rebellion against God results when we forget our value in His eyes.
“conceiving and murmuring from the inner person words of falsehood.” When the heart is dark the mouth is dark. Clean water cannot be drawn from a polluted well.
59:14 Vehusag And sliding backward achor to the rear mishpat justice utzedakah and righteousness meirachok are far off ta'amod standing, remaining: kiy chashelah varechov emet for the truth has stumbled in the open plaza unechochah and straightness, equity lo-tuchal doesn't prevail lavo to enter.
Here justice, righteousness, truth and equity are personified as forgotten (to the rear), distant (far off), stumbling in public (open plaza), and unable to enter the city (doesn’t prevail to enter). This of course is not because these personifications of the emanations of God’s character are unable to remain present, affecting transformation; rather it is because Israel had refused them a. prominence (to the rear), b. welcome (far off), c. honour (open plaza), d. entry (doesn’t prevail to enter). God forces Himself on no person. Without freewill love cannot exist.
59:15 Vatehiy And it has come about that haemet the truth nederet is lacking vesar and departed mara from evil mishtolel like prey: vayar YHVH and HaShem sees vayera and it is evil be'eiynav in His eyes kiy-eiyn for it is not mishpat justice.
Truth has not “failed” as some English translations so foolishly render the text. To the contrary, Truth is available but it is lacking because Israel is lacking. It has departed because Israel has departed from it. Truth is an attribute of God’s character, it never fails because He never fails.
HaShem is fully aware (He sees) of the injustice and evil that reigns in the hearts of the apostate Israelites.
59:16 Vayar And He saw kiy-eiyn iysh there was no man (one, person) vayishtomeim and was appalled kiy eiyn for there was no mafgiya intercessor vatusha or salvation lo zero'o therefore, with His own arm vetzidkato and His righteousness hiy He semachatehu upheld it.
“He saw there was no man (one, person) and was appalled for there was no intercessor or salvation” Simply put, no human being is righteous of themselves, nor is there anyone who qualifies to save another. God alone saves.
“Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.” -Psalm 143:2 (NKJV)
“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins.” - Ecclesiastes 7:20 (NIV)
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” -Romans 3:23 (NKJV)
Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) appears to be making a drash on Isaiah 59 when he combines passages from the Tanakh (OT) to say:
“As it is written,
The Babylonian Talmud interprets this latter clause of the King Messiah, Who will come in an age when there are none but wicked men (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 1.)
59:17 Vayilbash And He clothed Himself tzedakah with righteousness kashiryan as a breastplate vechova yeshuah and salvation as a helmet be'rosho on His head vayilbash and put on bigdeiy garments nakam of vengeance tilboshet vayat and wrapped Himself in raiment kamiyl as a robe kinah of zeal, jealousy.
“It is revealed, that He will work a great salvation for His people, yea, He will render vengeance to His enemies.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE)
There is a foundational correlation here between the present verse and the armour of God of Ephesians 6:10-18:
“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you are able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the worldly forces of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist when the times are evil, and after you have done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm then! Buckle the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 Strap up your feet in readiness with the Good News of shalom. 16 Above all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 Pray in the Ruach on every occasion, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, keep alert with perseverance and supplication for all the kedoshim.” (TLV)
To have the armour of God placed upon us is to be clothed with the nature of the King Messiah: it is to be clothed with the nature of God with us. The armour of God is not the invention of Greco-Roman thought, rather it is firmly rooted in the present text of Isaiah.
When we are endowed with the armour of God we are invested with the zeal and jealousy of God for His people and His redemptive purposes for humanity. The breastplate of righteousness protects our inner person (leiv) and the helmet of Salvation (Yeshua) guards our minds and reminds us that our salvation is secure outside of time and space and cannot be compromised because it is entirely reliant on God. We are wrapped in vengeance against the forces of darkness and their resulting sin, and we are robed with zeal for the kingdom of God.
“He clothed Himself with righteousness as a breastplate” The previous verse explains how and by what means HaShem will uphold salvation for His people. Now HaShem Himself is pictured wearing righteousness as a breastplate. He is going to war for the salvation of His people Israel (and in turn for the nations). Of course, this is a description of both the Father and the Son, our King Messiah.
“And I saw the heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and he that sat thereon called Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” -Revelation 19:11 (ASV)
“Salvation as a helmet on His head” The head “rosh” is the ruler of the body and the origin of thought (But not of consciousness). HaShem need not wear either the breastplate or the helmet for protection, rather they are symbolic representations of His character. The protection is for us. Therefore, we don the nature of HaShem through Messiah and are prepared for spiritual war in the present sin affected age.
“and put on garments of vengeance and wrapped Himself in raiment as a robe of zeal, jealousy.” We note that His righteousness and salvation come with vengeance against the adversary (Satan) and the demonic forces, against sin and its defiling work, against the wilfully wicked and perpetually rebellious sons and daughters of the evil one. This is a war for the redemption of His people, He is jealous for Israel, just as He is jealous for all who would turn to Him in repentance and receive His redemption, love, mercy, and the grace born of His Holiness.
“And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.” -Revelation 19:13 (ASV)
59:18 Ke'al According to gemulot their deeds ke'al so yeshalem He will fully repay (through a covenant of peace) chemah rage letzarav to His adversaries, gemul recompense leoyevayv to His enemies, laiyim to the islands (of the Mediterranean) gemul recompense yeshalem in full (through a covenant of peace).
The peace that had eluded apostate Israel (v.8) is now the mechanism by which judgement comes against the enemies of God both foreign and domestic. The indictment against evil widens to include the Islands of the Mediterranean and in a figurative sense, it includes all who do evil.
59:19 Veyireu And they will fear mima'arav from the west et-sheim the Name YHVH HaShem (Mercy) umimizrach-shemesh and from the eastern sun et-kevodo His glory kiy-yavo for it will come to pass chanahar when like a river tzar the adversary comes, Ruach YHVH the Spirit of HaShem nosesah will raise a sign against him (will cause him to flee).
“They shall fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the oppressors shall come in like an inundation of the river Euphrates, they shall be broken by the Word of the Lord.” -Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE).
“they will fear from the west the Name YHVH HaShem (Mercy) and from the eastern sun His glory” The western nations will fear and be in awe of the Person of HaShem, His nature, character, redemptive purposes etc. The eastern nations will fear the manifestation of His glory and power.
“for it will come to pass when like a river the adversary comes, Ruach YHVH the Spirit of HaShem will raise a sign against him (will cause him to flee).” This verse has found partial fulfilment on many occasions in Israel’s history, and the Targum supports the idea of a physical enemy from the east being defeated in latter times: something that the Revelation also describes. However, its greatest fulfilment has both come and is yet to come. The ultimate enemy of Israel is not the united anti-Semitic nations of the earth, rather the greatest enemy of Israel is Ha-Satan and the fallen nature of the human soul. Therefore, the “nes” miracle, sign, wonder that HaShem has and will raise up by His Spirit: was, is and will be the King Messiah Yeshua, His vicarious sacrificial death and resurrection through which Israel finds atonement, redemption, salvation and restoration, resulting in everlasting life.
“This verse is in perfect harmony with the prophecy, And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was, etc. (Dan. 12:1). At that time Israel alone will be saved; therefore this verse is followed by the words, And the Redeemer shall come to Zion.” -Iben Ezra
59:20 Uva And will come letziyon to Zion (parched land) Goel a Redeemer uleshaveiy and will turn back fesha the rebellion beyaakov in Jacob (follower) neum declares YHVH HaShem (Mercy).
“And will come letziyon to Zion (parched land) Goel a Redeemer (Kinsman)” We note that the Redeemer will come to Zion, that is Israel (ethnic, religious), the Jewish people.
“This is the Messiah” -Iben Ezra
“For I am not ashamed of the good proclamation, message, news of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first perpetually and also perpetually for the Goyim (nations).” -Romans 1:16
“and will turn back the rebellion in Jacob (follower) declares YHVH HaShem (Mercy).” Such will be the power of the Redeemer’s actions, that through Him God will transform the hearts and minds of the Jewish people (Jacob, Israel). So much so that they will turn back from evil, turn back toward HaShem, turn away from the very root of sin itself (rebellion against God) and turn toward Mercy Himself YHVH through the Redeemer, the King Messiah Yeshua.
“’Unto them that turn from transgression.’ Every one that shall be found written in the book (Dan. 12:1)” -Iben Ezra
59:21 Va'aniy And I zot beriytiy this is My covenant otam with them amar says YHVH HaShem Ruachiy My Spirit asher Who aleycha is upon you udevaray and My words asher which samtiy I have put befiycha in your mouth lo-yamushu will not depart mipiycha from your mouth umipiy nor out of the mouth zaracha of your seed umipiy nor out of the mouth zera zaracha of your seed's seed amar says YHVH HaShem, meiatah from now ve'ad-olam and as far as forever, in a world perpetual.
“And I this is My covenant with them says YHVH HaShem” (Romans 11:27) This covenant (bloodshed, cutting) is of God alone. His blood will bind and sustain the covenant.
“My Spirit Who is upon you and My words which I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth nor out of the mouth of your seed nor out of the mouth of your seed's seed says YHVH HaShem, from now and as far as forever, in a world perpetual.” The Living Word our King Messiah will, by the Spirit of Hashem, come and indwell the redeemed people of Israel and His life will be passed on from generation to generation. This began at Shavuot (Pentecost) 33 CE (AD) and has continued through the redeemed Messianic remnant of Israel to this day as is testified to in my own life according to the passing on of Messianic Jewish faith by my forebears. This will find its ultimate fulfilment in the salvation of the entire remnant of Israel following the fullness of the nations at the end of this age (Romans 11:25-26), and will be sustained forever perpetually through Messiah in Olam Haba (the world to come).
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
Like so many of the psalms, the weighty distant steps of the coming Messiah can be heard ringing through the hallways of history, approaching with glory, and “commanding the blessing!”
Regardless of when this psalm was penned in its final form, it is attributed to King David. Psalm 133 is one of the fifteen Songs of Ascents (Shir Ha-ma'alot), and one of the three Songs of Ascents consisting of only three verses (131; 134). It’s not known when David wrote this psalm, however, some suggest it was written on the occasion of his anointing as king in celebration of the people’s unification under his reign (2 Sam. 5:1), while others suggest it was written following the quelling of Absalom’s rebellion, when the tribes of Israel jostled for the honor of bringing David back to his rightful place in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 19:9). Still others make a more general and much more likely suggestion that he wrote it while observing Israel gathered together for one of the Regaliym/Aliyot (Pesach, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) festivals. In addition to these suppositions some scholars suggest that this psalm was added to the collection of psalms nearing the end of David’s life in approximately 1015 BCE.
The Jewish commentators Kimchi and Ben Melekh see this psalm as being prophetic of the times of the Messiah (yet future), and take it to be a prediction of the peace that will exist between the King Messiah and the High Priest of Israel. This is in keeping with the figurative typing of Joshua (Zechariah 6:11-13). In fact, Yeshua united the Kingship and Priesthood of Israel through His immersion (baptism), His death and resurrection, and sanctified these roles with the pre-existing priesthood likened to the order of Malkiy-Tzedek (My King of Righteousness): a perfect priesthood (Hebrews 7) that functions to reconcile all who believe to the Father, causing both Jew and Gentile to truly abide together in a union that is everlasting, purchased through the blood of the Messiah’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice.
The two figures of the oil running down Aaron’s beard and the dew upon Mt Hermon convey a sense of extravagant blessing and the empowering of God’s chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious). These Hebraic poetic couplets denote a firmly established future for the Jewish people, in fact, in the context of this psalm they reveal and established eternity. The imagery is more than simile, it is “ki” because of these similitudes that brothers and sisters dwell together in union.
There are many side rooms in this psalm that lead us to greater depths of understanding: each symbol and figure brings to life the intricate workings of God as He weaves together a picture of unity that surpasses even our greatest attempts at manufacturing oneness. The Hebrew poetic couplets further enforce the strength and certainty of these richly prophetic words, and remind us again of the everlasting value of the promises seeded into time and space by God through the mouth of His servant David, king of Israel, beloved of God.
Like so many of the psalms, the weighty distant steps of the coming Messiah can be heard ringing through the hallways of history, approaching with glory, and “commanding the blessing!”
133:1 Shir A Song ha-ma’alot of that which goes up, that which comes to mind, degrees, stairs, ascents; le’David attributed to David (Beloved of God). Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, mah how (what) tov good umah-nayim and how (what) delightful, pleasant(ness), lovely(ness) it is, shevet sitting, dwelling, remaining, abiding achiym brothers and sisters gam-yachad again, also, united, in union, alike, as one!
Another way to read this would be:
A song of the ascending of David: Look, now, what is this good, and what is this loveliness; it is brothers and sisters sitting together also in union.
Notice that the brothers and sisters are not merely sitting in close proximity but are sitting and are in union.
The Jewish sage Iben Ezra interprets “achiym” to refer specifically to priests (which is similar to the teaching of 1 Peter 2:9); the Jewish commentator Kimchi interprets “achiym” as the King Messiah and the priest together (which is similar to the teaching of Hebrews 7); and the Jewish commentator Yarchi, interprets “achiym” of the Israelites (which is consistent with the remainder of the psalm).
The 2nd century Aramaic Targum reads:
“1. A song that was uttered on the ascents of the abyss. Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of Zion and Jerusalem, together indeed like two brothers.”
The Targum understands well the locational aspect of this psalm by merging the latter similes of the Hebrew text with the opening clause. Where others have focused only on the unity aspect, and have thus, misunderstood the whole. The idea of ascending from the abyss is one of transcendent quality that alludes to the redemptive priestly work required in order for Godly union to be made manifest.
“Shir A Song ha-ma’alot of that which goes up, that which comes to mind, degrees, stairs, ascents; le’David attributed to David.” (133:1a.)
The opening clause can be understood in multiple ways, both spiritual (esoteric) and literal:
One may also paraphrase the opening clause as a spiritual drash for all who believe:
“We each have a song that we offer up to the Father, a song that comes to mind as we ascend through the redemptive work of the King Messiah, a song that testifies of His love, sung by the beloved of God.”
However, the p’shat (plain meaning) of the text is locational, situational, and refers specifically to the ascent of the Temple mount in Jerusalem, in the land of Israel and as it relates to the Jewish (ethnic, religious, empirical) people, the elect (chosen) of God, through the priesthood and the redemptive, substitutionary sacrificial system. These words being, “of king David”, one of the most influential and prophetic kings of Israel’s history, and the one from whom the Messiah would come forth (with regard to His humanity).
“Hineih Behold, now, pay attention, mah how (what) tov good umah-nayim and how (what) delightful, pleasant(ness), lovely(ness) it is, shevet sitting, dwelling, remaining, abiding achiym brothers and sisters gam-yachad again, also - united, in union, alike, as one!” (133:1b.)
While the majority of English translations render “mah” as “how”, it seems equally likely and more colloquially intuitive to translate “mah” with regard to its common use as “what”.
Therefore, I prefer to read:
“Wow, look, pay attention, what goodness and what delight is this? Sitting, dwelling, even remaining, brothers and sisters, also, in union (or: also as one).”
In other words, “What is this incredibly beautiful and truly impossible thing I’m seeing? True Godly union between brothers and sisters.”
Notice that the text does not say simply that brothers and sisters dwelling is good and pleasant, rather it says that both dwelling and also union (oneness), is good and pleasant. Nor does the entirety of this psalm promote unity alone. Rather, it shows Godly unity to be the fruit of a priestly order via a sacrificial system of atoning substitution. Empowered by the Spirit (oil), which produces the fruit of unity.
Unity is not the goal. Messiah is the goal and unity is the fruit of Messiah at work in us through the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. This spiritual principal which can be applied to all believers, is none the less first and foremost (in its plainest sense) specifically prophetic of Israel’s (ethnic, religious) future. As we will see from the latter verses, the blessing that results is locational, yet future, and for a specific people (Jews) in a specific land (Israel).
Good and Pleasant:
“Tov”, is good in the purest sense. Yeshua, revealing His own deity, said, “Why do you call me good, only God is good” (Mark 10:18). For something to be good in all its fullness is for it to be “On earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).
“Nayim”, is pleasant to the olfactory sense (sense of smell). In other words, this will be pleasing not only based on sight but also on smell. This is why the psalmist goes on to use the fragrant anointing oil as a simile.
We note that the observing of this form of unity brings a sense of “tov” goodness, wellness, pleasure, and of “nayim” pleasing experience, delight etc. The unity described is in fact not truly achievable in a perpetual sense within a sin affected world, not even by the community of believers. Therefore, the unity described is intentionally and specifically prophetic. It is a unity that will be experienced at the coming of the King Messiah at the end of the age, and will be evidenced in the redeemed ethnic religious nation of Israel (and subsequently in all of redeemed humanity).
“Yachad” means union, unitedness, unity (noun masculine), together, all together, alike (adverb). It occurs 147 times in the Tanakh (OT) and is most often (124 times) used to denote togetherness, that is, individual persons, entities, or objects, together in close proximity. It is related to the Hebrew word “echad” meaning “one” which is used to describe the intimate union of man and wife “the two shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). However, “yachad” specifically refers to separate entities in proximity rather than denoting an intimate conjoined union. Thus, when a husband and wife are walking together they are yachad, but when they are joined in the sex act they are echad.
When we consider the weighty emotion brought to this psalm by David, who had many wives, concubines, sons and daughters, we must grapple with the turmoil he must have felt as he considered the disarray and division caused by his sin choices and looked forward in hope to a time when, through the Messiah, all of his family would live as one (unified) in the presence of God in the New Jerusalem, in the land of Israel.
This union that is being spoken of is not possibly except through the Messiah.
“Everyone who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves the one born of Him. 2 We know that we love God’s children by this—when we love God and obey His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God—that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone born of God overcomes the world. And the victory that has overcome the world is this—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world, if not the one who believes that Yeshua is Ben-Elohim?” -1 John 5:1-5 (TLV)
133:2 Ka-shemen Because, like, as oil (fatness) ha-tov the good, the best, al ha-rosh on the head, yareid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al ha-zakan on the beard, zekan-Aharon beard of Aaron (Bright, Many Mountains, Light bearer, Ark bearer, latter days), shereid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al piy on the collar, outer edges (mouth) midotayv of his robes, stature, measure, extent!
David now proceeds to explain not only what the union of brothers and sisters who dwell together is like, but also the mechanism and process required in order for the fruit of unity to be seen in Israel.
The Hebrew “Ka-shemen” is most often translated “Like oil”, however, the Hebrew “kiy” which begins the composite “Ka-shemen”, can be understood to mean, “because, as, like etc.” Therefore, we may read:
“Because the precious oil upon the head of Aaron runs down the beard, Aarons beard…”
In other words, the imagery is associated to the mechanism which perpetuates the peaceful dwelling together of brothers and sisters in unity. The images of oil on Aaron’s beard and dew on Mt Hermon are more than simile, they are the outworking of the blessing that brings about the unity observed by David in the first verse of this psalm, and in turn becomes witness to the locational blessing commanded by God in the last verse.
The poetic imagery used here is of great importance. The oil is not just oil but “The good oil” or “The precious oil”, and refers specifically to the mixture of oil assigned by God for use in anointing the Cohen Ha-gadol (The High Priest) and sprinkling on the priests. It was not to be used for any common purpose or by any common Israelite (Exodus 30:22-23).
The oil was to be poured upon the head of Aaron subsequent to the donning of the priestly garments, including the head covering (Lev. 21:10) and was to overflow to the very ends of the garments. It is interesting to note that Aaron was never to uncover his head or rend his garments (Lev. 21:10).
The specific event described here occurred only once. That is, it is specifically Aaron’s anointing that is described and likened to a time when brothers and sisters will dwell together in union. Aaron was the first Levitical High Priest and father of Israel’s subsequent Levitical priesthood. Therefore, this figure is not intended as a general image to be likened to every act of anointing ever performed, rather it specifically alludes to the anointing of Israel’s first Levitical High Priest Aaron, and to the mixture of oil used to anoint him. Therefore, failing to understand the context means misinterpreting the text and misunderstanding its application and future fulfilment.
Ka-shemen Because, like, as oil ha-tov the good, the best, al ha-rosh on the head, yareid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al ha-zakan on the beard, zekan-Aharon beard of Aaron (Bright, Many Mountains, Light bearer, Ark bearer, latter days)… (133:2a.)
“shemen ha-tov”, the precious oil, is described as follows:
“23.“Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, 24.and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. 25.And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. 26.With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, 27.and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, 28.and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. 29.You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. 30.You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 31.And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. 32.It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33.Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’” -Shemot (Exodus) 30:23-33 (ESV)
The fine fresh olive oil smelled strongly of cinnamon (cassia being of the same family, a bark), myrrh, and an uncertain sweet aromatic cane, possibly from Sheba or some part of Arabia. It is perhaps for our own protection that the exact blend is impossible to fabricate today.
The perfumed anointing oil (being a symbol of the Holy Spirit), offers an opportunity for us to experience at very least in part the fragrant nature of the experience of Aaron. The Ruach (Spirit) of God is illuminated in the components of the perfumed oil. He is the fragrance of sweet salvation to those who are being redeemed.
We note that the oil of anointing was not poured over Aaron’s sons, though it was sprinkled on them. Thus, Aaron is “Ha-Cohein Ha-Mashiyah” (The Priest The Anointed), whereas subsequent priests experience “Meshuchiym” (Anointings) [Numbers 3:3]. Additionally, it was never to be used on the common Israelite. Therefore, the anointing in question is for priests alone, and more importantly, the fullness of that anointing is upon the head of the High Priest.
Therefore, in keeping with this imagery we are able to properly interpret the life of Messiah Yeshua, His unification of the Kingship and High Priesthood of Israel and His perfect Priesthood in the order of Melki-Tzedek. Ultimately, it is from the anointing of Messiah and through Him that all who believe become participants in the priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) that is offered to all according to the type or order of Melki-Tzedek (My King of Righteousness) [Hebrews 7]. This is not to say that anointing others with oil is in and of itself inappropriate, but simply that the anointing in question is intentionally specific and refers to a prefigure that illuminates the Messiah.
The text of Exodus details the dressing of Aaron in his High Priestly garments prior to his anointing. Further still, contrary to the depictions of this event in popular Christian art, we are not told that Aaron’s head dress was removed prior to anointing. Therefore, he must have been wearing the head covering (which symbolised the need for blood atonement) and the gold plate engraved with the words “Kadosh le’YHVH” Holy Unto The Lord.
The anointing oil runs down Aaron’s beard and over his shoulders, down his breast and to the very edges of his priestly garments:
“shereid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al piy on the collar, outer edges (mouth) midotayv of his robes, stature, measure, extent!” (133:2b)
In order for the oil to reach the outer edges of Aaron’s robes, it must have been poured in copious quantity, and would have flowed over the stones on his shoulders engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, over the breastplate and each of the precious stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel, down behind the breast plate over the uriym (lights) and tumiym (completions) which were tucked into a pocket behind the breastplate, over the blue outer garment, over the pure white linen garment, soaking through to his skin and symbolically covering every aspect of his priesthood and headship as the spiritual shepherd of Israel (Exodus 28). The obvious correlation to the ministry of the Messiah is to say the least, mind-blowing.
We must not cheapen our understanding of this imagery by seeing only a few drops of oil being applied to the head of a petitioner. The text denotes a flood of specifically composed fragrant anointing oil.
The oil is poured forth from a horn (Ram’s horn), thus signifying the One through Whom all believers would one day receive the promised Ruach Ha-Kodesh Holy Spirit (Yeshua being the substitutionary Ram of God and the horn being a symbol of His strength in redeeming Israel [Isaac]). The oil is poured over the head in order to convey the spiritual headship of the High Priest, and is therefore a prefigure of the Perfect Great High Priest Yeshua, the King Priest of the Perfect Priesthood (Hebrews 7).
What is more, all of this is preceded by Aaron and his sons participating in the offering of substitutionary sacrifice for the atonement of sin and a meal of matzot (unleavened bread) [Exodus 29]. Therefore, the anointing with the precious oil was not performed until right relationship with God had been established (at least symbolically). This of course is a prefigure of the body of Messiah broken for us (matzot) and the blood atonement purchased for us through Messiah’s blood poured out on the cross (rams).
The Holy Spirit (oil) was not poured out on the believing Jewish community until after Messiah’s return to the Father following His death and resurrection (Acts 2), nor is the Holy Spirit given to anyone who has not understood and received the saving work and Person of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).
In one sense the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the first century Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua (Acts 2), is a foretaste of the ultimate manifestation of the unity of Israel (ethnic, religious) at the return of the Messiah. Both events are the literal outworking of the similes in the present psalm.
It’s important to note that while David alludes to the imagery of Aaron’s anointing, which occurred outside of the land of Israel following Israel’s escape from Egypt, he is none the less writing this psalm from his purview within the land of Israel and is therefore uniting the imagery of Aaron’s anointing with the anointing of the land from Hermon (in the north) to the mountains of Zion in the centre. David writes this psalm as a psalm of ascent (Aliyah: going up [to Zion, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem]), not just localised ascent to the Temple mount but also as an Aliyah psalm for all those who ascend three times a year to observe the Regaliym/Aliyot (Pesach, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) festivals. Thus, the fragrances of the festival foods and the offerings, both sacrificial and celebratory (freewill) is presupposed by the union of the two similes of the anointed High Priest and the anointed mountains of the land of Israel. The former having occurred immediately post bondage (in Egypt) and the latter being the hope of Israel’s future redemption through Messiah.
Aside from the depth of symbolism in the process of anointing Aaron, there is also the simple grandeur of the oil flowing over his head, stinging his eyes and soaking into his skin, beard, and garments.
In order to better understand the kinetic reality of the anointing of Aaron, I had myself anointed in a similar way and was stunned by the stinging sensation in my eyes as the oil made its way down my face. The pain was great, “What’s going on” I thought, “Shouldn’t this be an enjoyable pain free experience. Isn’t this supposed to represent the Holy Spirit being poured out on me? It’s killing my eyes, I can’t see… Wait a minute… I can’t see…”
It occurred to me that the Holy Spirit does not always make me feel comfortable, in fact, He often makes me feel uncomfortable. God is present in my discomfort, just as He is in my comfort. The eyes I use for seeing this world are stung by the presence of the Holy Spirit, but when I become accustomed to the oil I am able to see things that are not of this world, pure, eternal, unseen things.
There are those who claim that the manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are evidence of His abiding with a believer, however, Yeshua reminds us that “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7:22-23 TLV)
I think (or should I say “Scripture teaches”), that the Holy Spirit is more often evidenced in the way we respond to suffering than He is in the ecstatic gifts that are often counterfeited by so many. In one sense, God is saying to Aaron the High Priest and to we who follow the High Priest Yeshua (The Suffering Messiah), “If you want to be a priest, you best get used to both the healing balm and the stinging pain of the present, overflowing Spirit of God.”
133:3 Ketal Because, like, as the dew, night mist of Chermon (Hermon, Sanctuary, devoted, dedicated for destruction) shereid running down, sinking down, marching down, descending al-Har-reiy on the mountains of Tziyon (Zion, Parched land)! Keey Because sham there tzivah commands, orders, charges, HaShem (YHVH, Mercy, The LORD) et (the) certain ha-berachah the blessing, prosperity, gift, treaty of peaceful Chayyim living, perpetual life, ad ha-olam going round, perpetually, as far as forever in the world (to come).
The Mt Hermon/mountains of Zion simile (literal and figurative mechanism) works perfectly alongside the imagery of the anointing oil running from Aaron’s head to the edges of his garments. In like fashion the dew of Hermon runs from the top of Israel’s northern border and down to the place where Israel collectively goes up to worship God during the Regaliym/Aliyot festivals. Thus, all Israel (the people) and all of her land, is covered by the dew of Hermon both literally and figuratively.
“There” is a locational term indicating the mountains of Zion, where the brothers and sisters of Israel (ethnic, religious) dwell together in unity.
“HaShem commands the blessing”. The blessing is commanded upon the mountains of Zion when Jews dwell there together as one (yachad). This is a prophetic statement. God is speaking into time and space an observation of the future redemption of the entire remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious), when, following the fullness of the nations, all of Israel (ethnic, religious) will be saved (Romans 11).
We note that the Hebrew text does not say, “There the Lord commands a blessing” but rather, “There the Lord commands the blessing.” The “berachah”, blessing, prosperity, gift, treaty of peace, is one that brings “chayim”, not life but living (plural, perpetual). Living that will be “ad ha-olam” going round in the world perpetually forever. The world being the Olam Haba (World to come).
Therefore, the text is not saying that wherever believers in general dwell together in unity that God will command a blessing, rather, it is saying that when Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical) dwell together through redemption and the anointing supplied by the King Priest Messiah, in the land (literal) of Israel (at the return of the Messiah), then and only then, there and only there, will God command and establish the blessing of everlasting life on the New Earth.
“Chermon” (Hermon), from charam, to dedicate someone or something to the afterlife or to death.
The Law of charam is expounded in Leviticus 27:28-29, and states that whatever is labelled as charam cannot be redeemed (bought back or ransomed out). In the Tanakh (OT) there are no instances of human beings designated as charam who aren't subsequently executed, however, there are a number of people who have names that are derived from this verb. Which may indicate that the verb once denoted salvation.
Not everything designated charam was automatically destroyed. In Numbers 18:14 HaShem declares “Every devoted thing (charam) in Israel is yours (Aaron and his sons) [see also Lev. 27:21 and Eze. 44:29]. When Joshua sacked Jericho, the whole city and all it contained (apart from Rahab and her house) was designated charam, yet the gold, silver, bronze and iron objects went into the tabernacle's treasury (Joshua 6:19).
Mt Hermon therefore, carries the symbolic meaning of being charam dedicated to the Lord unto the afterlife and is equally representative of salvation.
“Hareiy Tziyon”, the mountains of Zion (the parched land), also have significant figurative value and show Israel’s need for the mayim waters of chayim living. Waters that she receives through the dew that results from the charam (dedication) of her Messiah, and the salvation that results from His substitutionary sacrificial death and resurrection.
In addition to the profound poetic value of this simile there is the practical reality of the geography and climate of Israel:
Van de Velde writes in regard to his Travels (Bd. i. S. 97):
“What we read in the 133rd Psalm of the dew of Hermon descending upon the mountains of Zion, is now become quite clear to me. Here, as I sat at the foot of Hermon, I understood how the water-drops which rose from its forest-mantled heights, and out of the highest ravines, which are filled the whole year round with snow, after the sun's rays have attenuated them and moistened the atmosphere with them, descend at evening-time as a heavy dew upon the lower mountains which lie round about as its spurs. One ought to have seen Hermon with its white-golden crown glistening aloft in the blue sky, in order to be able rightly to understand the figure. Nowhere in the whole country is so heavy a dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon.”
Therefore, the simile is both powerfully figurative and practically literal.
Psalm 133, has been misused to claim an illegitimate unity over certain groups within the body of Messiah, devoid of respect for the plain meaning of the text as it applies to the brothers and sisters of Israel (ethnic, religious) and the contextual and locational elements in the text. In addition, and with great fervour it has been misused as an excuse for believers in general to demand a blessing from God based on their dwelling together, despite the fact that the blessing is for a specific people (The Jews), time, and in a specific location (The mountains of Zion in the land of Israel).
While it’s true that in some sense there is a principal here regarding unity and blessing for all believers, it is only the case in a secondary sense and must be made subject to the plain meaning of the text.
This psalm observes the ultimate union of the brothers and sisters of Israel (ethnic, religious) in the land of Israel, through an anointing that flows from the head of her priesthood (both literal and transcendent), and shows through the use of simile, those things that must take place in order for this union to be fully filled at the end of the age.
Therefore, David, by the Holy Spirit, employs the poetic imagery and occasion of the anointing of Aaron the High Priest alongside the majestic beauty and natural precipitation of Mt Hermon, in order to show both literally and figuratively, where and when God (YHVH: Mercy, the God of Israel [ethnic, religious]) will command the blessing of life everlasting upon the union made possible by His Son and empowered by His Holy Spirit poured out on Israel (and the nations).
Let us therefore, show due respect for the plain contextual meaning of this psalm by appropriately applying the principal of unity and ceasing to demand a temporal blessing where a locational (place, time, space) blessing upon a specific people (Jews) with an eternal purpose, is intended.
133:1 A Song of that which goes up, that which comes to mind, degrees, stairs, ascents; attributed to David, (the beloved of God). Behold, now, pay attention, how good and how delightful, pleasant, lovely it is, sitting, dwelling, remaining, abiding brothers and sisters again, also, united, in union, alike, as one! 133:2 Like oil the good, the best, on the head, running down, sinking down, marching down, descending on the beard, beard of Aaron (the bright one, of many mountains, a light bearer, an ark bearer, in the latter days), running down, sinking down, marching down, descending on the collar (mouth) of his robes, stature, measure, extent! 133:3 It is like the dew, night mist of Hermon, (a sanctuary, devoted, dedicated for destruction) running down, sinking down, marching down, descending on the mountains of Zion (Parched land)! Because there (the mountains of Zion) commands, orders, charges, HaShem (YHVH, Mercy, The LORD) (the) certain blessing, prosperity, gift, treaty of peaceful living, perpetual life, going round, perpetually, as far as forever in the world (to come).
2nd Century CE Aramaic Targum of Psalm 133:
“1. A song that was uttered on the ascents of the abyss. Behold, how good and how pleasant is the dwelling of Zion and Jerusalem, together indeed like two brothers. 2.Like the fine oil that is poured on the head, coming down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, that comes down to the hem of his garments. 3.Like the dew of Hermon that comes down on the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”
Copyright Yaakov Brown 2019
We are first speaking of ethnic Israel and then speaking of both ethnic Israel and the redeemed among the nations. To neglect the former negates the latter.
Chapters 34 and 35 detail the doom of Edom and the return to the land of the redeemed people of Israel. These chapters are act as an epilogue of what some call the “Book of Wows”.
In these chapters the prophet looks beyond the punishing of Assyria and its judgement and eventual destruction to the judgement of all the ungodly nations of the world. Edom, a brother to Israel, had acted in an unbrotherly way toward Israel during her distress. Edom, while a literal ethnic title, is also used as a personification of all those who have come against God and His people. Edom is seen as a representation of that which is evil within the human race and is prophesied to share the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Chapter 34 details the fate of Edom which is almost identical to that of Babylon. Some critiques mistakenly presume that this is proof of a post exilic dating for this text, however, it is more reasonable to conclude that the similar themes in Zechariah and Ezekiel are simply proof that Isaiah’s prophecies were well known to the latter prophets and that it was Isaiah’s scroll that influenced the latter prophets and not the other way around.
Chapter 35 is an exceptional poetic picture of the future redemption and return of Israel both spiritual and physical. It provides a stark contrast to the judgement, punishment and desolation of Edom, the evil nations of world who have sought come against God and His redemptive purpose for humanity.
Isa 35:1 Ye’susum Rejoice midbar wilderness (from the Word) and tziyah dryness (dry place) vetageil and be glad aravah desert plain; ve’tifrach and blossom kachavatztzalet as the rose, meadow saffron, crocus.
The previous chapter ends with Edom’s (Enemies of God and Israel) land being turned into a place of perpetual desolation, dryness. Whereas this chapter begins and ends with Israel’s desert and wilderness being transformed into well-watered blossoming pasture land.
The Hebrew word midbar (Wilderness), as previously discussed in my commentary on Isaiah 32, is a contraction meaning “from the Word, essence, thing”. Thus, rejoicing comes from the Word (John 1), and from within Zion.
The Hebrew tziyah “dryness”, is the root for the noun Tziyon (Zion: parched land). Therefore, the dry land of the desert is a personification of Tziyon. Zion is to rejoice and be glad from her interaction with the Word (The Messiah Yeshua). As a result she will blossom like the rose or meadow saffron, both beautiful and fragrant blooms.
The wilderness is a place of nourishment for the people of Israel. Her journey through the wilderness after escaping her captivity in Egypt resulted in her spiritual formation, and prepared her for what was ahead of her in the promised land. Revelation 12:14 describes Israel’s original exodus retrospectively and leaves open the possibility that the future may yet hold a wilderness experience for the ethnic people of Israel.
As a remez (hint) from the Hebrew text we can read “Rejoice from the Word in your wilderness experience, and you dry ones (Tziyah: residents of Zion) be glad even as far as the arabah (the desert parts of your God given land), behold, God is making you blossom and prosper.”
Rav Moses Hakkohen writes that there are two opinions as to the specific nature of this prophecy. One opinion suggests that this describes the state of Israel in the time of the Messiah’s reign, and the other suggests that it refers to the peaceful state of Judah following the Assyrian withdrawal in 704 BCE. In fact both interpretations are valid. The perpetual nature of Hebrew prophecy allows for both.
Isa 35:2 Paroach buding, sprouting, tifrach bud, sprout, (abundantly), vetageil and be glad with giylat joy veranein and overcome, shout: Kevod the glory of ha-levanon the Lebanon (witness) nitan-lah will be given to her, hadar the splendour of ha-Carmel the Carmel (Garden land) and ha-Sharon the Sharon (plain north of Jaffa between the central mountains of Israel and the Mediterranean Sea), they will see Khevod-YHVH the glory of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), the splendour of Eloheiynu our God (Judge).
We note that the “budding, sprouting” from the root parach, is doubled at the beginning of this verse and infers abundance while also reminding the reader that the future blossoming and rejoicing of Israel has been firmly established by God.
Ibn Ezra is right in saying that this text refers to the land of Israel or Jerusalem itself, and that the “They” of the final clause refers to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. This is affirmed by the 2nd century Targum Yonatan which reads;
“the house of Israel, to whom these things are said, they shall see,''
We further observe that while the favoured English translation is “With great joy and singing”, the Hebrew root ranan literally means to overcome and can mean to shout or cry out but at best can only be rendered as singing in a figurative sense. Therefore, I have chosen to translate the Hebrew as an “overcoming shout” rather than as “singing”.
“The Lebanon (witness)” in this context probably refers to a specific mountain in Judea famous for its tall cedars and green appearance rather than to Israel’s northern neighbours. It alludes to both the physical appearance of the mountain and perhaps also to the future physical appearance of the “witness” who will precede the Messiah, that is Elijah. The kevod glory is associated with the Lebanon, whereas hadar beauty, which infers a more earthly affiliation, is connected to the Carmel and the Sharon (two locations within the territory of Judah famous for their fruitful pasture land).
In using all three locations to refer to the coming redemption of the land, the prophet is showing that this redemption will cover the entire land of Israel.
The kevod (heavenly glory) and the hadar (earthly beauty) will be united and as a result the people will see the Khevod HaShem the glory of Mercy and the Hadar Elohiym the beauty of His judgement. The couplets within the Hebrew poetic-prophetic text are intended to give a sense of something established outside of time and space that is to take place within time and space.
Isa 35:3 Chazeku Strengthen you yadiym the hands of rafot the weak, uvirkayim and the knees of koshelot the stumbling ones ameitzu make strong, alert, courageous, brave, bold, solid, secure.
By far the majority of Jewish commentators attribute this verse to the Messianic age. These things did not occur during the reign of Hezekiah, it is therefore intellectually dishonest to suggest that they did.
Strength and courage are the result of the coming King’s (Isaiah 32) redeeming work. Hashem Himself will hold firm the shaking hands of the weak and give courage and stability to the stumbling ones. This applies both to the weakness of the body and that of the spirit, mind, and soul being. Hashem and His Mashiyach King will affect this transformation and regenerate the people of Israel and her land.
The hands symbolize human action and the legs represent the way we walk or live in a moral sense. Thus the coming Redeemer will replace the shaky and morally dubious actions of His people with the firm right action of His Spirit and will give His people the courage to walk rightly before Him in the presence of the Messianic King.
Isa 35:4 Say lenimhareiy to them that have an anxious, hurried, fearful lev core being (heart), “Chizku Be strong, al-tiyrau don’t fear (be afraid): hinei behold, Eloheiychem your God (Judge) nakam with vengeance will come, with a recompense Elohiym God (Judge); Hu yavo veyosha’achem He will come and save you (plural).
Ibn Ezra suggests that this verse is spoken to those who don’t believe this miracle could happen.
This wonderful message of assurance spoken to the ethnic people of Israel then and now is also available to all who would put their trust in Israel’s Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). What a wonderful encouragement it is to hear these words from the mouth of the Messiah:
“You who are anxious, hurried, fearful within your core being, be strong, don’t fear, listen to Me, your God is coming with vengeance against your enemies and His: your God, the Judge of the universe is coming to repay the wicked in justice; He will come and save you!”
I’m reminded of the comforting words chanted as we complete each book of the Torah and at the end of the Torah cycle:
“Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazeik.” Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened!”
Some shy away from talking about the vengeance of the Lord because they are under the delusion that this somehow impugns God’s character, it does not. God is just and His vengeance is just. There is security in knowing that the God in Whom we have placed our trust will be fierce in His administration of justice and in His protection over us His children, both redeemed ethnic Israel and Messiah following Gentiles. The Scriptures speak of the vengeance of God on many occasions and often in conjunction with His deliverance of ethnic religious Israel: Isaiah 61:2; Luke 21:22; Revelation 18:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:8.
Recompense is reward to the righteous and punishment to the wicked (Rev. 11:18).
“He will come and save you”. The King Messiah came for the first time to perform the redeeming act of death and resurrection in order to make eternal deliverance possible for ethnic Israel and all humanity. And, although it is true that He has come to save you, it is also true that “He will come and save you”! In this context the prophet is speaking specifically to the ethnic people of Israel His chosen people. Yeshua the King Messiah has come to deliver us from sin and is coming again with vengeance and in order to bring judgement and recompense.
Notice that verse 4 uses only the Name of God that denotes judgement. Mercy (YHVH) and Judgement (Elohiym) begin this redemptive process (v. 2), but it is God as Judge Who saves (Yeshua) in the present verse. The King Messiah is coming again as a warrior, a fierce King, with judgement and recompense He will bring about the salvation of His brothers and sisters ethnic Israel. Make no mistake, God will keep His promises to ethnic Israel, not because of our righteousness but because of His. The Prince of Peace will again come to save us but this time He will be wearing the garments of war.
Isa 35:5 Then opened will be the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
These words taken literally refer to the physical events that directly correlate to this prophecy, those being the healing miracles of the King Messiah at His first coming, recorded in the Brit-Chadashah (New Testament): Matthew 9:27; John 9:1; Matthew 11:5.
We must however, go a step further, for this verse is also speaking of a time when this will happen in a general sense. Meaning that the eyes of all who are blind in Israel will be opened along with the unstopping of the ears of all in Israel who have been deaf. This refers without doubt to a spiritual blindness and a spiritual rebellion. These events, while having occurred in part in both the physical and spiritual due to Messiah’s saving work at His first coming, are yet to be fully filled. This yet future event is described in Romans 11 and will bring about the redemption of all of ethnic Israel.
Isa 35:6 Then yedaleig leaping like a deer piseiach a lame man, ve’taron and overcoming, shouting, leshon the tongue of ileim the dumb, silent, mute: ciy-nivkeu for breaking open, tearing, bamidbar in the wilderness (in and from the Word), mayim waters: unechaliym and a torrent ba’aravah in the steppe desert.
Once again the physical healing of the lame within Israel saw its fulfilment in the days of Yeshua the King Messiah’s first coming (Matthew 15:30; Acts 3:1). Likewise the healing of those unable to speak (Matthew 9:32; Matthew 12:22). However, the Targum rightly understands this as referring not only to physical healing but also to the spiritual redemption that the Messiah was to bring to ethnic Israel and the nations:
"then shall the eyes of the house of Israel be opened, who were as blind men as to the law; and the ears of them that are as deaf men, to attend to the words of the prophets shall hear; then when they shall see the captives of Israel gathered to go up to their own land as the swift harts, and not tarry,'' -Targum Yonatan (2 century BCE)
The lame man is symbolic of one whose purpose has been hindered by the sin affected world. His healing brings him into a place that exceeds all hope and causes him not just to walk but to leap. The one unable to speak has an impaired tongue or language. This is representative of a restriction that has been imposed upon his ability to communicate. Thus, the loosing of his tongue or language sets him free to communicate the righteousness of God to others. In one sense we might say that the Hebrew language had itself been restricted during the Hellenistic period and parts of later history but has now been loosed once more, this time as an everlasting language.
The Hebrew nechaliym (torrent) is from the root nachal “inherit, possess”.
The wording of the latter clause is beautiful and revealing:
“for breaking open, tearing, out of the wilderness ( from the Word), waters: and a torrent in the steppe desert.”
The waters will of course literally break forth to water crops and bring flowers into blossom, but the prophet intends much more and the prophetic meta-narrative of God demands it. Water is life and that life is born of God, poured out to us through His Messiah Yeshua Who said:
“Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty. The water that I give him will become a fountain of water within him, springing up to eternal life!” -Yochanan (John) 4:13-14 TLV
Notice that this water comes from our wilderness experience, from that time when we dwelt alongside the Mishkhan (Tent of the Presence). Wilderness life is hard but intimate, a trial that binds us together out of necessity. It is mi-from davar-the Word Himself, He Who bore our wilderness and suffered as we have, that the living water comes forth.
Look closely at the language. It is dishonest to translate nechaliym as streams: nachlah is a tearing, a torrent, a bursting forth. This is not a description of a trickling stream or otherwise, rather it is a an image of a gushing, bursting, fierce, unrelenting rush of waters that will forever silence the thirst of the desert and satisfy the thirst of the soul. Isaiah is prophesying a torrent of eternal life, something that we inherit nachal through Messiah.
Isa 35:7 And it has come to pass ha-sharav the burning (scorched) ground, mirage, will become la’agam a troubled pool, and the thirsty ground springs of mayim water: binveh in the habitation (shepherds hut) of taniym serpents/dragons, where each lay, shall be chatziyr grass, Leeks, herbs with reeds and rushes.
The plain meaning indicates that while once the scorching heat of the desert produced the illusion of an oasis within a mirage, now there will really be a place of refreshing waters and palm trees, and where there was once nothing but dry thirsty ground there would now be springs of water. The environment that had been ideal for snakes will now be too wet for them and will become a green well-watered land, lush with leeks, rushes and herbs.
On the other hand the symbolic language also conveys some deeper spiritual truths. The mirage produced by the conditions of Israel’s desert experience had become their focus so that they had chosen to pursue the mirage of unsatisfying water offered by false gods, waters that weren’t really there. Now, in the Messianic age they will behold the real living waters of God and His Messiah.
The regeneration of the land will make it impossible for the serpent to make his home there. The shepherd housing, once occupied by the false shepherd, symbolized by the serpent, will now be occupied by the righteous and rightful shepherd of Israel, the King Messiah Yeshua. Thus, the serpent Satan and his minions will be removed from the land completely and forever.
Isa 35:8 And it has come to pass sham there maslul a highway vaderekh and a way, vederekh and the way of ha-Kodesh the holiness, she (lah) will be called; and no tame unclean, impure thing will pass over it; but it (he) will be for those choleich going forth, derekh a way ve’eviliym that fools (despise wisdom) will not err in, wander from.
“There” means through the once barren lands of the southern and parts of the eastern borders of the land of Israel. A maslul highway will be made to carry and return the redeemed of ethnic Israel, both physically and spiritually. A highway is a wide main road that is unmistakably clear to all who seek it.
This “Highway” will be vaderekh “the Way”. The Hebrew text repeats the phrase “vaderekh vederekh ha-kodesh” literally “and a way and the way of Holiness”. The text explains that the second phrase is a title for this “way”. In other words, while this is a literal highway it is also a spiritual path, one that has a name “Vederekh Ha-Kodesh” The Way of Holiness. It is therefore, no coincidence that the spiritual path pursued by the Jewish followers of the King Messiah Yeshua became known as “The Way” a Jewish sect (Acts 19:9-23). Thus, this “Way of Holiness” refers to ethnic Israel’s path to salvation through the King Messiah Yeshua and his blood atoning sacrifice and resurrection.
“No unclean thing” refers not only to ritual uncleanness but to moral uncleanness. This way will be only for those who have returned to God through the Redeemer and Messiah Yeshua. In historical context this must first be understood to refer specifically to the Jewish people, however, it will also become true of those among the nations who accept Israel’s Messiah Yeshua. He is of course “Ha-derekh, ha-emet ve’chayim” The way, the truth, and the life.
Such is the clarity of the highway and its “way” that even the one who was once foolish, who now chooses “The Way”, will no longer be able to walk in error due to the transformative work of God through the Messiah.
Isa 35:9 There will not come there any aryeih lion, nor any ravenous chaiyot animal shall go up there, it shall not be found sham there vehalechu and walking geuliym the redeemed:
The lion and ravenous beast are symbolic of harm that comes against travellers, especially in a land that has become unruly and left desolate. Thus, the text is conveying the idea that all the previous threats which resulted from sin and lawlessness will be removed from Tziyon (Parched land) and that only the redeemed (Through Messiah) will walk in this place.
Isa 35:10 Upeduyeiy And the ransomed of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yeshuvun will return, and come to Tziyon (Zion: parched land) berinah with shrill ringing cries (overcoming) vesimchat and joy olam everlasting al rosham upon their heads: sason gladness vesimchah and joy yasigu they will obtain, take hold of, venasu and flee yagon grief, sorrow, anguish va’anachah and sighing, groaning.
Notice that it is only the ransomed of Hashem who will return. No one will return unless his ransom has been paid. Thank God, Yeshua gave of Himself to be that ransom for all ethnic Israel and for the nations. Here though we are first speaking of a physical return and then a spiritual one. Therefore, we are first speaking of ethnic Israel and then speaking of both ethnic Israel and the redeemed among the nations. To neglect the former negates the latter.
We see that this chapter ends by referring to God’s ethnic chosen people using the designation it began with, “Tziyon” from tziyah (Parched Land). He was there in the wilderness, He is here in the regenerated land.
“Berinah” is more akin to the shrill wailing of middle eastern women than it is to singing. Mizrachi Jewish women still make this shrill cry at weddings and festivals in celebration of the goodness of God.
This returning to Zion is one of the greatest of joys. The prophet says that ethnic Israel will be filled with everlasting joy, and that joy will rest upon our heads. The rosh (head) is the ruler of the body. Thus the joy that is everlasting will rule us both individually and corporately. We will obtain this through the King Messiah from God the Father and what’s more, all that once resulted in sadness, sorrow and suffering will flee away.
This will begin as a complete restoration of the ethnic people of Israel, God’s chosen, and culminate with the resurrection of the righteous from every ethnicity of humanity and the unification of the heavenly and earthly Jerusalem, and the regeneration of all things through Messiah Yeshua our King and Redeemer unto the Glory of HaShem the Merciful King of the universe.
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
It’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
The theme of the next two chapters is Judah’s choosing to seek an alliance with Egypt for protection against Assyria rather than relying on the Lord to deliver her.
Our Jewish sages are divided on who the recipient is: some say that Isaiah is rebuking king Hezekiah of Judah, others say he is rebuking king Hoshea of Israel. The former is a more reasonable conclusion given the context of the previous chapter and the identifying of Zion and Jerusalem within the current chapter. However, the prophet is far more likely to be rebuking a controlling faction within the king’s retinue. After all, the plural “baniym” is used and given that the prophet doesn’t name any one individual it seems more tenable to suggest that he is rebuking a group of governing leaders and or the people of Judah as a whole.
The secret planning begun in Isaiah 29:15 has clearly advanced and is now bearing fruit. Negotiations by ambassadors have already commenced. Therefore, on a personal level, the prophet is warning against something he can no longer prevent.
It is interesting to note that throughout this series of rebukes God is named using YHVH, the Holy personal Name which denotes mercy. YHVH is used 13 times, 13 being the number that unites the 1 true God with the 12 tribes: a sacred number that has great significance in Jewish thought, religious practice and culture. It is a number that conveys a new beginning atop fullness. With this in mind we read the indictments in the following verses as the loving discipline of Mercy Himself: once again, God purposes a discipline that concludes with the redemption of Judah and all Israel.
Isa 30:1 Oy Grief, hope, heart wrenching woe, baniym offspring (children, sons) of rebellion, declares HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), la’asot that fashion eitzah purpose, but not of Me; velinesokh and that pour out [anoint] maseikhah [a king, molten gods] libations, but not of Ruachi My Spirit, breath, wind: with the intent of being consumed by chatat al chatat sin upon sin:
Following Rashi’s interpretation one Jewish English translation reads:
‘“Woe to rebellious children," says the Lord, "to take counsel but not from Me, and to appoint a ruler but not of My spirit, in order to add sin upon sin.”’ [Judaica Press]
This is the second to last of the “Oy” chapters. Both this chapter and the following one address Judah, the tribe from whom the King Messiah will one day come.
The accusation of rebellion is well founded and must have been a difficult one for the prophet to speak against his people. “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Sam. 15:23), and that is precisely the problem here. Seeking to manipulate forces they don’t understand, both physical and spiritual, the children of Judah have turned their backs on God and His mercy and have instead sought out others in a vain effort to protect themselves from the Assyrians.
Judah has made her plans and sought her alliances, and has poured out libations, perhaps even in a syncretised form that was supposed to please HaShem; however, God makes it very clear that her practices are no of His Spirit. To the contrary, it seems that the rulers and people of Judah have intentionally chased after alliances that they knew were contrary to God’s will, and have pursued other gods and sins of the flesh with the full intention of indulging their sensual desires until they’re consumed by them.
The reason for the diversity of meaning in the latter clause “that pour out libations” is the phrase “velinesokh maseikah”. Both Hebrew words come from the root nasak which means “to pour” and is used to denote anointing, libations, coverings, molten gods, and by inference, kings, counsellors etc.
The Targum Yonatan (2nd Century CE/AD) sees in the phrasing “velinesokh maseikah” an allusion to the seeking of ungodly counsel. It reads as follows:
“Woe unto the rebellious children, says the Lord, who take counsel, but not of my Word, who consult a consultation, but do not ask my prophets, that they may add sin unto the sins of their soul.”
Isa 30:2 Who walk to descend into Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress), and of My mouth you have not enquired; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh (Great House), and to seek refuge in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt: double distress)!
A reading of the text using the meanings of the proper nouns would go something like this:
“Who choose the way of descent into double distress, refusing to enquire of Mercy, they strengthen themselves with a great but temporary ruler, seeking refuge in double distress.”
This heart breaking account of Judah’s wilful return to the place of her slavery must have caused Isaiah great affliction of soul. Through the prophet HaShem says, “Of My mouth you have not enquired”, meaning that Judah has not only rejected the words proceeding from the mouth of God but have also shunned the intimacy of the mouth of her Husband and deliverer, the King of the Universe (all things).
Perhaps the prophet hoped that by describing her actions back to her, he would somehow alert Judah to the obvious: that she had turned her back on the God Who delivered her from double distress in Egypt, and was now returning to the very bondage she had once ached to be freed from. All this in order to make an alliance with her persecutors so as to avoid another enemy who God had already promised to deliver her from.
We note that it is on the heels of Judah’s rebellion against HaShem, her reliance on human planning, her anointing of false counsellors, her ignoring of God’s Spirit and her seeking to be consumed by her sinful desires, that she makes the decision to seek refuge in Egypt. Many today act in a similar way, searching for security in the things of this world in spite of the fact that God’s arm is stretched out still, willing, waiting, wanting to redeem us if only we would acquiesce and receive His offer of eternal refuge.
Isa 30:3 Therefore it has come to pass for you that the strength of Pharaoh (Great House) is your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Mitzrayim (Egypt, double distress) likh’limah is confusion, reproach, disgrace, dishonour.
Like Judah, when we put our trust in human strength, even the greatest of human strength, we are inevitably put to shame because human strength is always born of human nature (fallen, sin affected). If we choose to return like dogs to vomit, seeking shelter beneath the shadow of our past bondage, we should expect nothing more than confusion and dishonour. Like Judah, many believers today, having been given freedom in Messiah, none the less choose to return to the bondage from which they were delivered. We are like prisoners sitting in cells, the doors flung open, more comfortable in our captivity than we are in His freedom. In order to admit our need for Him, we must first accept that we are prisoners, unable to escape of our own fruition. It is not a question of slavery but one of mastery and masters. Whom will we serve?
The price of our freedom has been paid with the imperishable blood of God with us: the door to our eternal freedom can only be opened from the other side. Once the door is opened it is up to us to walk through it. We are predestined and we have freewill. Messiah has set us free from false choices.
In the current text Judah has been offered the open door of God’s redemption and has refused it, instead choosing to walk in the opposite direction, returning to her ancient captors Egypt. For the Jew Egypt represents sin and captivity, thus, only the greatest hubris could inspire him to turn to Egypt for help.
Isa 30:4 For his (Judah) princes were at Tzoan (Place of departure), and his malachayn messengers (ambassadors) came to Chanes (Grace has fled).
“Princes”sarayu, refers to royalty and means that either blood born or royally affiliated rulers from Judah have sought alliance with Egypt. This probably means that the king of Judah has either wilfully or tacitly approved of their undertaking.
Tzoan was an ancient city of Egypt known by the Greeks as Tanis and located on the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile. It was the capital of the Shepherd dynasty, built seven years after Hebron and existing prior to the birth of Abraham and the time of the exodus. The meaning of Tzoan reflects Israel’s (Judah) “departure” from God’s will.
“Messengers” malachayn, is born of the root that we often translate as “angel”. In this context the messengers are political ambassadors, subordinate to royalty in status but powerful in function. They are the ones who would have ensured that the vision of the nation was implemented.
The location of Chanes is uncertain but it may be either Tahpanhes, on the eastern frontier, or a town on an Island in the Nile south of Memphis. Once again the name reflects the reality that while Judah has fled from God, God’s grace has fled from her.
The highest levels of Judean government are represented here, and as representatives of Judah they make all Judeans complicit in their actions. This is why elsewhere the prophet identifies himself as sharing in the guilt of his people (Isaiah 6:5): not because he is personally guilty but because he is a Jew and is therefore represented by the Jewish leaders, and the people of Israel, righteous or not.
Isa 30:5 They all stunk and were shamed on account of a people that could not profit them, and not help, and for no gain, except to be shamed, and taunted.
The Hebrew text of this verse offers at least one alternate translation due to what some consider scribal error. I have simply included both options in the one translation because I believe the so called error to be intended and a valuable illumination of the message.
The clear message of this verse is that Judah, wanting to build an alliance with Egypt, will none the less be treated contemptibly by the Egyptians and will find only the stench and shame associated to the enslavement of her past. She will not profit from any alliance with Egypt, to the contrary, Judah will gain only taunting and humiliation from the Egyptians.
Isa 30:6 The masa burden of the beasts of the Negev (south, southern desert): into the land of distress ve’tzukah and constraint, anguish: to the lioness and the lion, the viper vesaraf and fiery serpent meofeif flying (hovering), they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the humps of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.
The Hebrew “masa” is used here as a title like the four title headings in chapters 21 to 22. “The Burden” alludes to the fact that the prophetic utterance is a burden upon both the prophet and the people. Thus, the first five verses of chapter 30 are a general indictment and beginning with verse six a more specific indictment is issued. In this case Isaiah speaks of the journey of the princes’ and ambassadors as they travel toward Egypt via the Negev, Israel’s southern desert region.
The language of this verse is both literal and figurative in nature, not to mention poetic. The couplet of distress and anguish, finds its poetic counterpart in the lion and the serpent. Likewise, the doubling of riches and treasures coincide with the burdens they place upon the donkey and camel. Thus, masa “the burden of the beasts of the south.” This burden will come upon Judah as a result of her having given away the riches and treasures of God, replacing them with the unreliable riches and treasures of Egypt (human strength).
Isa 30:7 And the Mitzrayim Egyptians (double distress) are like hevel vapour (vanity) variyk and emptiness: therefore have I cried out concerning this, “Rahav Arrogant one (proud, storm, sea monster: Egypt) hem who shavet ceases (sits).
Egypt, which is symbolic of sin, captivity and double distress, is likened to a fearsome sea monster unable to exert its power, or an arrogant being that sits still incapable of acting. The name Rahav is applied to Egypt elsewhere (Isa. 51:9, Psa. 87:4, 89:10). This is the people who Judah has foolishly placed her hopes upon. They are like an empty vapour in the vastness of eternity, a passing breath that is of no lasting consequence. Judah has given up the strong arms of Hashem and has instead sought to grasp at the wind.
Isa 30:8 Now go, chotvah write it al upon liuach a tablet (stone, wood, metal) for them, and al upon seifer a scroll (book), chukah to inscribe it (decree, cut out, engrave) for the day (time) to come ad olam as far as forever:
This instruction to write is important because the majority of Isaiah’s words, while spoken by the prophet (in the hearing of the people), were none the less probably recorded by Isaiah’s scribe. The prophets of Israel were often accompanied by scribes who were devoted disciples. For example, Baruch the scribe of Jeremiah. However, Habakkuk was also instructed to write his prophecy on a tablet (Hab. 2:2).
Here, Isaiah is specifically directed to write this prophecy down as a perpetual reminder to future generations, even to those as far afield as the last days. The message is to be written on stone and on kosher animal hide, perhaps in part because every matter must be established by two witnesses. These two formats were the means of keeping the permanent records of the time. It is clear from the receipt of the text that Isaiah was obedient to God’s instruction and must certainly have understood his message to be for the future generations of Israel.
The words “chotvah” and “chukah” both come from the root katav which refers specifically to the written word. There is a Kabbalistic teaching (from the Zohar) that suggests the ketvi (written word: from katav) is the essence of the universe. While in the strictest sense this is only true of ketvi based on a figurative interpretation, it is none the less very similar to the teaching of Yochanan’s (John) Gospel (John 1). However, there is a marked difference between the two teachings in that the Hebrew “D’var” is not restricted in the way that the Hebrew “ketvi” is. While “ketvi” may proceed from “D’var”, “D’var” cannot proceed from “ketvi”. With regard to the order of the universe “ketvi” is subject to “D’var”.
Isa 30:9 Because this is a rebellious people, baniym children (sons) of kechashiym lies (lying), baniym children (sons) unwilling to hear the Torah (Instruction) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy):
This verse describes the type of people who ask prophets not to speak the truth. These are not just rebellious but also children of lies. They’re not simply ignorant of the Torah, rather they refuse to hear it. Keeping in mind that if we read the inferred meaning of the Holy Name of God, we translate, “children unwilling to hear the Instruction of Mercy”.
Yeshua is probably alluding to this verse when He says:
“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks lies he is just being himself—for he is a liar and the father of lies.” -Yochanan (John) 8:44 (TLV)
Isa 30:10 Who say laroiym to the seers, “See not”; ve’lachoziym and to the visionaries, “Don’t provide visions to us of straight (right) dav’ru essence (words, things), flatter us with what you see, prophesy deceptions:
Spiritual blindness is Judah’s problem. Thus, the use of the very specific prophetic title “roiym” Seers.
The rebellious children of Judah (Israel), who are children of lies and wilfully refuse God’s Instruction, now demand of their roiym seers that they “See not”, and of the choziym visionaries, that they not provide visions of “straight things” (2 Sam. 15:3). Worse still, and in keeping with their unwillingness to hear the Torah of Mercy, they compel both the seers and the visionaries to flatter the people with the things that they want to hear, even if those things are known to be deceptions. This is one of the greatest of sinful delusions, for “no one is blinder than he who refuses to see.”
Speaking of certain elements within the Ecclesia (Church: community of believers), Rav Shaul (Paul) writes to Timothy saying:
“For the time will come when they will not put up with sound instruction, but they will pile up for themselves teachers in keeping with their own desires, to have their ears tickled.” -2 Timothy 4:3 (TLV)
Isa 30:11 Turn aside from the derech way, thrust aside the orach journey (path), His rest, turn us from His face kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God).”
The divine title “Holy One of Israel” is used three times between verses 11 and 15. It is within these verses that we find Israel denying both her God and her own identity. It is because God is the Holy One of Israel that Israel exists at all. In his weakness Jacob was blessed by God and through submission to God with us (the wrestling man) was given the name Israel, which means “Yisra” overcome, “El” God. Thus, Israel are those ethnic children of Jacob who overcome in God. Therefore, in his charge against Israel, the prophet Isaiah uses the title for God that best illuminates the ironic and self-deluded behaviour of the people.
The foolish words of the people continue as they tell the nevi’iym prophets, roiym seers, and choziym visionaries of Israel to “turn aside from the way” of God. They have just said, “Don’t tell us straight things”, now they add, “And don’t live straight lives”. In other words, “We don’t want to be reminded of God and His ways by goody two shoes prophets who continue to live for God in the midst of our sin”. The people want to be led away from God by spiritual leaders who are also walking away from God.
The Hebrew phrasing “ha-derech” the way, could not be more prophetically relevant to the future disciples of the coming Messiah. It is of course the very title used to describe the Jewish sect who were followers of the Messiah Yeshua in the first century CE/AD (Acts 9:2).
The prophets of Israel are not only told to turn aside from “the way” but also from “the journey”, and “the rest” of God. “The way” means knowing which direction to head in, “the journey” means continuing to walk in that direction, and “the rest” is the secure knowledge that it is the right direction.
Those who walk in darkness detest light. This is why the people say “Turn us from His face, the glory of Israel”. How heart breaking it must have been for Isaiah to speak these words and how saddened the heart of God. The people to whom He desired to show mercy refusing their own identity in Him. Israel, whose name is born of the “Glory of Israel” (God Himself), refuses her God and her identity, preferring to live a lie.
Isa 30:12 Wherefore thus says kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God), “Because you despise, refuse, reject ba’davar this word, essence, thing, and trust in oppression, perversion remains on you:
Simply put, “I give you over to the fruit of your own sin”.
“This word” literally refers to this specific prophecy of Isaiah. However, it can be understood in more general terms and applied as a drash (comparative teaching), a remez (a hint) and illuminates a sod (mystery).
Those who refuse “The Word” (Yeshua) of God inevitably fall victim to their own words.
“But My people did not listen to My voice.
Israel was not willing to be Mine.
So I gave them over
to the stubbornness of their heart,
to walk in their own counsels.” -Psalm 81:12-13 (TLV)
“24 Therefore God gave them over in the evil desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies with one another. 25 They traded the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature. 27 Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men[g] and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to recognize God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what is not fitting. 29 They became filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents. 31 They are foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree—that those who practice such things deserve death—they not only do them but also approve of others who practice the same.” -Romans 1:24-32
“Trust in oppression” is a reference to the people of Israel (Judah) returning to the land of their captivity (Egypt) seeking help. For the modern believer a comparative teaching can be made: to trust in oppression would be to turn back to a sin practice that Messiah has freed us from.
Isa 30:13 Therefore it has come to pass this perversity will be to you like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, which breaks forth suddenly in an instant.
Note that it is Israel’s own perversity that has become a breach in the wall of her protection. It has grown slowly but will fall suddenly. When a broken or swollen breach in a high wall comes down it usually brings down the entire section of wall with it. The rulers of Judah will bring down all of Judah through their perverse leadership.
The root “ba’ah” swelling, is used elsewhere to refer to the swelling caused by disease (Exodus 9”9, “boils erupting”). Thus, Israel’s perversity is like a disease that causes boils to erupt suddenly upon her.
Isa 30:14 And He (God) will break it like the breaking of a moulded jar that is broken into pieces; He will not show compassion: so that in the bursting of it there will not be found a shard for collecting fire from the hearth, or to draw water out of the cistern (pool).
God will use the hostile power Assyria to break up Israel like the breaking of a clay jar. For a time He will withhold compassion so that Israel will realize her need for Him.
Fire and water are two of the primary human needs. Thus, the prophet uses the symbolism of the tiny broken pieces unable even to collect fire for warmth or water for life.
Isa 30:15 For thus says Adonay the Lord HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), kedosh the Holy One of Yisrael (overcome in God); be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved; behashekeit in quietness (shutting of the mouth) uv’vitechah (from bitchah, betach) and in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds): and you are unwilling.
God offers a solution to Israel’s self-afflicting sin. We note that three titles for God are used, “Adonay” Lord, “YHVH” Mercy, and “Kedosh Yisrael” Holy One of Israel”. Each title signifies an attribute of God and His relationship to His people Israel. Adonay conveys Lordship over Israel. YHVH denotes mercy and shows God’s willingness to be merciful toward Israel. Kedosh Yisrael reminds Israel that Adonay is her God and that her identity is in Him.
God is constantly offering mercy, forgiveness and redemption to those who have rejected Him. However, in order for love to exist freewill must also exist. Therefore, He will not force Himself on anyone.
“be’shuvah In returning va’nachat and rest, quietness, comfort you will be saved;”
Note that it’s in returning to God (repentance), and by resting in Him, that Israel receives salvation (Yeshua). Many convey the Gospel of our Messiah in complicated terms but the truth is that right standing with God is as simple as admitting our sinfulness and accepting His sacrificial love, outworked through Yeshua our King Messiah. Our salvation comes to us through returning and quiet acceptance.
During the weekly Torah service when the Torah is returned to the Aron Ha-kodesh (The Holy Ark), we recite the following words:
“Whenever the ark came to rest, Moses would say: ‘Return, HaShem to the myriad thousands of Israel!’” -Numbers 10:36
We then conclude with the words of Eitz Chayim, which concludes with the words:
“Turn us Lord to You and let us return, renew our days as of old”
Returning and rest have been the building blocks of redemption from the very beginning.
“in trusting will be your strength (bravery, mighty deeds):”
The root for the word “trusting” is batach, a form of practiced trust that must be perpetuated. Notice that salvation is not reliant on batach but upon returning and rest, whereas strength, bravery, and mighty deeds are reliant on consistent trusting (betach).
Sadly, at the time of Isaiah’s prophecy we were unwilling to accept HaShem’s offer of salvation.
Isa 30:16 But you said, “No; for upon a horse we will flee;” therefore you will flee: and, “We will ride upon the swift;” therefore those who pursue you will be swift.
Israel will be judged by her own words. With pride she says “We will flee” to Egypt for protection. But instead she will “flee” in terror from invading armies. She says “We will ride swiftly” to our protector Egypt. But instead, Egypt will not protect her and she will be swiftly pursued by her enemies.
Isa 30:17 One thousand will flee from before the face of the rebuke of one; from the face of the rebuke of five one will flee: until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain, ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.
HaShem answers Judah’s prideful words by fulfilling upon them the curses of the Torah (Lev 26:8, Lev 26:36; Deu 28:25; Deu 32:30). One, or at the most five, of the enemy would put to flight a thousand men of Judah.
The verb nus (Isa 30:16), which rhymes with sus is used first in its primary sense of “flying” (related to nutz cf., Exo 14:27), and then in its more usual sense of “fleeing.”
Ibn Ezra notes that “The meaning of the whole phrase is: An officer over a thousand men will flee at the threatening of one man.”
“until you’re left as a beacon upon the rosh head of ha-har the mountain,”
Rosh ha-har “head of the mountain” is a reference to Mount Zion, the Temple mount. Thus, Israel will be afflicted until a mere remnant remains, having retreated to Mount Zion, returning to the place where HaShem had placed His Name.
“ve’caneis and as a banner (signal, sign, miracle) on ha-givah the hill.”
Ha-givah “the hill” is part of a poetic couplet that also denotes the Temple mount. It is in this location that the remnant of Israel will be seen as a neis miracle, sign, banner, both to her shame and for HaShem’s glory. For He will miraculously deliver His people who He has chosen and loved with an everlasting love. I’m reminded of our Diaspora Chanukah dreidel “neis gadol haya sham” a great miracle happened there.
Isa 30:18 And therefore yechakeh await HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), that He may be chanan gracious unto you, and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have racham mercy upon you: for Eloheiy (God: Judge) is mishpat a just HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): ashreiy blessed, happy are all those who wait for Him.
In accordance with the rhythm of Isaiah’s scroll the usual pattern of indictment is followed by the promise of restoration.
Israel is advised to wait for HaShem’s grace and mercy and reminded that He is a just God Whose Name denotes mercy. Those who wait on Him will be blessed with true happiness.
Note that HaShem is not a narcissist. His exaltation is purposed for mercy. He doesn’t exalt Himself for His own sake but rather for the sake of those He loves, that He might show them mercy. He is Judge (Eloheiy), just (mishpat), and merciful (YHVH).
HaShem has waited on Israel His wayward wife, His rebellious children. Now they must meet His waiting with their own waiting so as to receive true happiness in Him.
Isa 30:19 For the people will yeisheiv remain (dwell) in Tziyon (Parched land: The Mount: The Land: The People) in Yerushalayim (Down pour of Peace): weeping you will weep no more: He will be chanon yach’necha gracious to be gracious unto you at the voice of your outcry; when He hears it, He will answer you.
Judah will not lose Zion, she will remain in her. Note the doubling of grace within the Hebrew text: this denotes grace firmly and immutably established for Judah and all Israel. HaShem is ready and willing to act with grace and mercy in the moment that His people cry out to Him for deliverance. This has and will not change: it is the same for you as it is for Israel. He is the God of all.
Isa 30:20 And though Adonay the Lord gives you tzar narrow lechem bread (of adversity), and mayim water of lachatz distress (of oppression), yet your moreykha teacher (teachers) will not be hidden any more, but your eyes shall see your moreykha teacher (teachers):
This is an allusion to the broken pot shards of verse 14. Although Israel did not even have the tools to collect the basic necessities of life, none the less God will provide what megger rations of food and water they do have. It will be in the consumption of megger amounts of bread and distressfully small amounts of water that Israel will be given sight to see her Teacher HaShem. The Hebrew moreykha can be read as either singular or plural and in any case it is both. HaShem is Israel’s Teacher and He provides her with good teachers, such as the prophets.
Isa 30:21 And your ears will hear (receive, understand) d’var a word from behind you, saying, “This is ha-derech the way, you walk in it,” when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.
This verse has been misapplied by many believers. First because it is taken out of context and second because the presumption is made that it offers a type of coin toss as to directing the future path of any given believer.
The p’shat plain meaning of the text is clear, “A word from behind you” means, at that time in the future when you realize your error and see your Teacher (God with us), you will remember this prophecy, spoken years prior (behind you). “Saying, ‘This is the way’” means, the way of salvation through Messiah, spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. “Walk in it” means, walk in repentance, the salvation of the Messiah and the freedom of God. “When you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.” Means, wherever you go. It does not mean that the word speaking from behind you will tell you to go right or left, as if to say, you’ll be walking blindly forward and will only know which way to turn at the last minute.
Put concisely, in the future you will repent when you remember the d’var word of salvation spoken by Isaiah, and through that word you will be directed to walk in ha-derech “The Way” of God’s Messiah. Thus, you will walk in Messiah wherever you walk, be it right or left.
Followers of Yeshua Ha-Mashiyach do not practice blind faith, to the contrary, we practice a faith born of sight. We see Messiah and walk in light, regardless of whether we walk to the right or to the left. We walk with authority and confidence as His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11; Romans 8:29; Mark 3:34) and as sons and daughters of HaShem.
We should remind ourselves again that the first Jewish followers of Messiah Yeshua were considered a sect of Judaism and were “Ba-derech” in The Way (Acts 9:2).
Isa 30:22 You will defile the silver plating of your idols, and the ephod (mantle) of your molten images of gold: you will cast them away as a davah menstrual cloth; you will say to it, “you, get out, leave!”
These abominations of idolatry (which continued even in the first years of Hezekiah's reign: ( Isa 31:7; Mic 1:5; Mic 5:11-13; Mic 6:16) were to be defiled and discarded. Even the gold and silver with which the images were overlaid, would be made unclean.
“Davah” is shortened from “keli davah” menstrual cloth. This symbolizes infertility and decay and presents the idols as fruitless, dead, and worthless.
“Get out, leave!” Israel must wilfully reject and cast out her idols both physically and mentally. She is to be adamant in her speech in order to affirm her actions and ongoing commitment to turning her back on idolatry.
Isa 30:23 Then He will give the rain for your seed, which you will scatter in the ground; ve’lechem and bread (food) of the increase of the ground, and it has come to pass that fat and shamein oil will pasture your livestock bayom in the day (time period) ha-hu that one (the he), kar the basket saddle nirechav will grow wide [the meadow will be enlarged].
When Israel decides to uproot her idolatry God will once again bless the land and His people with abundance and prosperity.
The rain meets the need for water alluded to previously and the grain becomes bread to meet the hunger born of scant rations. The rain is the water of life, the flood of God’s Spirit and the bread is the sustenance of life, the Torah and living Word of God.
This blessing is to follow the defeat of Assyria which is spoken of in verse 25. The prophet pre-empts that victory with the promise of what comes after it.
“Bayom” in that day, finds its counterpart in verse 25 and turns the day of God’s destruction of Israel’s enemies into a day of deliverance, repentance, returning, rest and abundance for Israel.
Isa 30:24 Both the oxen and the young asses alike, that work ha-adamah the ground will eat seasoned fodder, which has been zoreh winnowed ba-rachat (from ruach) with the winnowing shovel and with the pitchfork/rake.
The cattle will not only have feed but will have the salted (seasoned) feed of a prosperous herdsman. This is an image of great abundance.
Isa 30:25 And it has come to pass that upon every har mountain high (exalted), and upon every (exalted) giveah hill nisa’ah lifted up, pelagiym rivers (channels), yivleiy streams of mayim water bayom in the day (time period) hereg rav of great slaughter, binefol migdaliym when the towers fall.
On every high mountain where idolatrous sacrifices brought judgement and drought to Israel, the refreshing waters of HaShem will flow once more. All this will happen following Hashem’s defeating of the Assyrian army that will surround Jerusalem.
Isa 30:26 Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, the light of seven days, bayom in the day that HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) binds up the breach of His people, and heals their severe wound.
The plain meaning of this verse expresses joy and light at the defeat of Israel’s enemy Assyria and the binding up of the breach suffered as a result of Judah’s wilful sin along with the healing of her wounds of oppression.
Ibn Ezra notes that the majority of Jewish commentators associate this verse with the Messianic age following the war of Gog and Magog.
The moon is a symbol of the Messiah due to its waning and resurrection each month.
Here the remez and sod meanings are attached to creation itself and the days of the creation recorded in Genesis 1 and 2. The sevenfold light is explained by the prophet as the combined light of seven days made manifest in one. The seventh day is of course the Shabbat. Thus in the day (time of the world to come, the Messianic age), redeemed Israel will enter into an eternal Shabbat whose light is so bright that it has no need of sun or moon and is therefore also not subject to the passing of time.
The writer of Hebrews explains the Olam Habah (World to come) as being the Shabbat which remains for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9). Thus there is an established understanding within ancient Judaism that the current text refers to a yet future day or time period. That day or time period being the inception of the World to Come, the eternal Shabbat of God’s rest.
The commentator Delitzsch puts it beautifully when he writes:
“Heaven and earth will then put on their sabbath dress; for it will be the Sabbath of the world's history, the seventh day in the world's week. The light of the seven days of the world's week will be all concentrated in the seventh. For the beginning of creation was light, and its close will be light as well. The darkness all comes between, simply that it may be overcome. At last will come a boqer (morning), after which it will no more be said, “And evening was, and morning was.”
Isa 30:27 Hineih Now, pay attention and behold, Shem the name of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) comes from a distant place, burning in His nostrils, ve’koved and heavy glory ma’asah is uplifted: segatayn His language (lip) is full of za’am indignation, uleshono and His tongue ke’eish is ochalet a devouring fire:
“Pay attention” says the prophet. The Name of the Lord is synonymous with the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord and with the Lord Himself. He comes from a distant place, that is, the heavens, from where the Malakh HaShem Angel of the Lord came down to wipe out the Assyrians overnight (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21).
This picture of HaShem’s fierce wrath against Israel’s enemies is at once both terrifying and comforting. This same fierce God of creation is fierce for all who accept His love.
Isa 30:28 Verucho And His breath, Spirit, wind, as an overflowing stream, will reach to the middle of the neck, to sift the goyim nations with the sieve shave of emptiness: and He will put a bridle in the jaws of the amiym peoples (tribes), causing them to go astray.
“Goyim” nations are made up of “amiyim” tribes.
The “sieve of emptiness” means that all of the crop of the wicked nations will be devoid of grain. It will all be chaff and dust blown away by the wind with not one ear of grain left on the threshing floor. God’s judgement will come against both the wicked goyim nations and against the wicked individual tribes amiym that make up those wicked nations. He will direct them toward their just destruction.
Isa 30:29 Ha-shir The song of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will come to you in the night hitekadesh chag when the holy convocation (festival, offering) is kept (made); vesimchat and there will be joy leivav of the core being (heart), like walking with a flute to come behar into the mountain of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to Tzur the Rock (cliff face) of Yisrael.
The Hebrew “chag” means both festival and festival offering. In this case the “chag” is qualified by the fact that it happens at night. The only festival that meets this requirement is Pesach (Passover). Therefore, the prophet is alluding to Passover. Subsequently the sages suggest that the Assyrian army was destroyed during Passover. This helps illuminate the meaning of the song of deliverance that will be given to Israel when God comes first to deliver her from Assyria and then, in that future day ba-yom, to deliver her from all the nations that surround her to destroy her because she bears His Name.
Just as the avenging angel came against Israel’s oppressors in Egypt on that first Passover night, so too the Angel of HaShem would come upon the Assyrians during the night, and in the future upon all the enemies of God and His chosen people ethnic-religious Israel.
The joy of her core being will be overflowing like one who ascends the Mountain of HaShem with joyous music, secure in the knowledge that the immovable Rock of Israel is her God.
Isa 30:30 And the majesty of HaShem’s (YHVH: Mercy) glorious voice will be heard, listened to and understood, ve’nachat and the descending of His arm, with the rage of his nostril, ve’lahav and with the blade eish of fire ocheilah devouring, driving storm and flood of rain, ve’even and stones barad of hail (judgement).
HaShem’s voice will be heard and understood by both Israel and her enemies. To Israel it will be the sound of deliverance and security and to her enemies the sound of imminent terror. Likewise the blade of devouring fire will be seen as protection by Israel but by her enemies as judgement and condemnation.
Isa 30:31 For mikol from the voice of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) yeichat shattered, dismayed, broken, abolished will be Asshur (Assyrians: a step), bashevet with the rod, struck down.
The plain meaning has been the defeat of Assyria all along. In Isaiah 10:5 Assyria herself is called the “rod of His indignation”. Now wicked Assyria will be wiped out by the rod of His indignation.
Isa 30:32 And it has come to pass that col every passing of the mateih the staff (branch) musadah of foundation (appointed), which HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will lay upon him (Assyria), it will be with tambourine and harps: and in battles of shaking will He wave it.
Israel, the victims of Assyrian oppression will celebrate her defeat with tambourine and harp, At every swing of the staff of God’s wrath Israel will celebrate her freedom from her enemies with loud music and the joyous jangling swing of the tambourine.
Isa 30:33 For Tofeteh (Place of spitting fire: southeast end of the valley of Ben-Hinnom: just south of Jerusalem) is ordained of old; also, it (he) is prepared lamelekh for the king (of Assyria); He has made it deep and large: the pyre there is eish fire and full of wood; nishmat (from nasham) the breath of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), a torrent of brimstone, consuming it.
Tofeteh is literally located in the valley of Hinnom south of Jerusalem, which has been historically associated with the heathen death cult of molech and with child sacrifice in fire. It has been ordained of old, that is from the fall of Satan, to physically receive the enemies of Israel into its well-stocked fire, blown to life by the breath of God.
Spiritually speaking the valley of Hinnom is symbolic of a much worse place, Gehinnom. Yeshua used the physical location of the valley of Hinnom as a representation of a much greater spiritual torment that awaited the wicked beyond this world. Therefore, it would be foolish, as some do, to right off the spiritual interpretation in favour of the idea that Gehinnom was intended as nothing more than an allegory based on the physical location. After all, an allegory is used to describe or convey a reality that cannot be comprehended in literal terms within time and space. Therefore, the allegory of the valley of Hinnom, where Israel’s enemies fell, garbage fires burned perpetually and children were sacrificed to heathen gods, must surely be a prophetic linguistic attempt to warn of something far worse outside of our present reality. Make no mistake, both temporal and eternal punishment await the wicked. But eternal life and perpetual rest await those redeemed in Yeshua the King Messiah.
“In returning and rest you will be saved!”
© 2018 Yaakov Brown
“The Messiah Who Isaiah the son of strength saw upon the ground of Judah and Jerusalem"
2:1 Ha-d’var The Word asher Who (which, that) Yishaiyahu (Salvation of YHVH [Mercy] Isaiah) ben son of Amotz (Strong) chazah saw (perceived, beheld, prophesied) al upon, on the ground of, over, above, toward, against, and concerning Yehudah (Praise, Judah) and Yerushalayim (Flood, downpour of peace, Jerusalem).
The opening words of Isaiah 2 are reminiscent of the Gospel of Yochanan (John) 1:1.
“In the beginning was Ha-D’var the Word and Ha-D’var the Word was with Elohiym (God) and Ha-D’var the Word was Elohiym (God). He was with Elohiym (God) in the beginning.”
While this is not the p’shat (plain/surface meaning) of the text of Isaiah 2:1, it is none the less a relevant remez (hint) that reveals a profound sod (mystery).
We could read, “The Messiah Who Isaiah the son of strength saw upon the ground of Judah and Jerusalem”
The Hebrew “D’var” has a much wider meaning than the English “Word”. D’var means, “Thing, declaration, promise, warning, word, speech, utterance, matter, case, manner, song, something, leading” etc. Hebrew uses a different word to describe that which is written, “Ketvi” which forms the plural Ketuviym (Writings) is the title of the poetry books of the TaNaKH (OT).
Therefore the plain meaning of Isaiah 2:1 is, “The thing (vision) which Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem”.
Though other nations will be spoken of as the vision unfolds, they are mentioned only according to their relationship to Judah and Jerusalem, and as a result of Israel’s destiny. This is why the text reads, “Concerning Judah and Jerusalem”. These visions of Isaiah are of future events. This is clear because the events he will describe had not yet occurred when Isaiah began his public ministry during the latter years of Uzziah’s (Azariah) reign.
The phrase, “The word which Isaiah chazah (saw)” is in the prophetic past tense. Hebrew prophecy (because it is seeded from outside of time and space by God), sees the future as if it has already taken place. A Hebrew in right relationship with God can remember the future.
Thus Isaiah 2:2-4 which follows, is a yet future picture of the role of Zion at the centre of God’s kingdom. The same prophecy is repeated almost verbatim in Micah 4:1-4
2:2 V’hayah And it came to pass b’achariyt hayamiym in the end of the days, that nachon firmly established will be the har mountain beit house of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) as the head of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and like a beam of light all nations shall flow toward Him (it).
The opening phrase “And it shall come to pass” (As in the majority of English translations) is in fact an attempt to convey the past tense Hebrew v’hayah, meaning, “And it came to pass”. This Hebrew contraction combines the Hebrew vei (and, for) and the Hebrew hayah (was). This is a prophetic-figurative use of the Hebrew language that is intended to convey the timeless nature of Hebrew prophecy. It is to be understood as yet future from an earthly perspective while complete from the perspective of the third heaven (God’s perspective outside of time and space).
The Hebrew phrase b’achariyt hayamiym (in the end of the days), is understood by our Sages to refer to the days of our King Messiah’s reign. These are the days referred to by Christian eschatologists as the Thousand Year Reign (Rev. 20:6). We should remember that to the Jew the numerical value 1000 represents a figure for eternity or perpetuity. Thus the words, “Hashem your Elohiym is the true Elohiym, the faithful Elohiym Who keeps His covenant faithfully to a thousand generations of those who love Him and guard/keep His mitzvot [commands right actions]” (Deut. 7:9), denote a perpetual faithfulness being offered by God to His faithful servants. In a more general sense “the end of days” is the period of time that closes human history.
“This will take place, as the prophet says, in the last of the days. That is, in the days of Messiah, which are the last of the days of the world.” –Ibn Ezra
The second clause “Firmly established will be the mountain house of HaShem as head of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills” Speaks of the mountain of the Lord, which is Mount Zion, the Temple Mount, Ha-makoom (The Place), Har-beit (Mountain house).
Contrary to popular modern conspiracy theories, the mount Isaiah is describing is not in a yet to be discovered alternate location, rather it is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, currently the location of the idolatrous Al Aqsa Mosque (ironic, given that God rebukes Israel in the following chapter (Isa. 3:18) regarding the wearing of crescent moon necklaces that express devotion to an eastern moon deity [Fem.]).
This prophecy of Isaiah foresees a yet future time when HaShem will once again completely return control of the Temple Mount to the Jewish people and from Mount Zion His Messiah will reign over the earth. The “Mount of Hashem’s house” refers to the physical location of Mount Moriah (Temple Mount in Jerusalem) and is also a figurative description of the very centre of God’s government on earth.
At the end of days Mount Zion will be both the centre of Israel’s worship and the place to which the nations come to worship Hashem and honour His Messiah. Following the Thousand Year Reign (Rev. 20:6) Mount Zion will be established eternally as part of the New Jerusalem. However, there will be no physical Temple, because HaShem Himself and the King Messiah will be the Temple of the new and eternal Jerusalem (Rev 21:22).
Therefore, Moriah (Chosen by YHVH [Mercy]) will remain the Mountain of the House of Hashem, only HaShem Himself and the Lamb will be its house. This is a wonderful sod (spiritual mystery) that will only be truly understood at the end of days.
“Will be the head of the mountains and exalted above all the hills” is a specific reference to the rule of God over the false gods that have been worshipped in the high places of Israel and throughout the world on mountain tops and high hills.
“And like a beam of light all nations shall flow toward Him” can be understood either to mean that HaShem’s Word will shine outward like a beam of light drawing the nations to Himself, and or, that the nations will stream toward HaShem and His Holy Mountain like streams of light.
“As it is written (Pr. 6:23), ‘For the commandments is a lamp, and the Torah is light’; go and occupy yourself in kindling the light of the world, to build the Temple, concerning which it is written (Is. 2:2), ‘And unto it shall shine all the nations’.” –Ein Yaakov 22:1:2
“That king that will arise from the seed of David will be a greater sage than Shlomo (Solomon)… and hence he will teach all of the people and instruct them in the way of the Lord. And all the nations will come to hear him…And the ultimate end of all the reward and the final Good which has no interruption or deficiency is the Life of the Olam Haba (World to Come); but the Messianic Age is Olam Hazeh (This World), following its own order, except that sovereignty returns to Israel.” –Mishnah Torah, Repentance 9:2
2:3 And many people shall go and say, “Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy), to the house of the Elohaiy (God, Judge) of Yaakov (Follower, Jacob). And He will direct us in His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Tziyon (parched land) will go forth the Torah (Instruction), and D’var the word of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) from Yerushalayim (Flood, downpour of peace, Jerusalem).
We note that this throng of people share the good news of Hashem with others, inviting them to go up to the house of the Judge and God of Jacob (Israel).
“To the house of the God of Jacob: Since he [Jacob] called it [the Temple site] Beth El [the house of God], therefore, it will be called on his name, but Abraham called it a mount, “On God’s mount shall He appear” (Gen. 22:14); Isaac called it a field, “to meditate in the field” (Gen. 24:63).” -Rashi
Isaiah then returns his conversation to his own people and including himself says, “And He (God with us) will direct us in His (God with us) ways, and we will walk in His (God with us) paths.”
Isaiah then explains how this will be possible both practically and spiritually speaking:
“For out of Tziyon will go forth the Torah, and D’var the Word of HaShem from Yerushalayim.”
“Isaiah 61:6 ‘and you (Israel) will be proclaimed priests of the Lord.’ This is also the true meaning of ‘The Torah emanates from Zion.” (Isaiah 2:3)” –Sforno
Referring to the mitzvoth of the Torah the book of Deuteronomy says:
“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” –Deuteronomy 11:19 (NIV)
“For out of Tziyon (parched land) will go forth the Torah”. The Torah consists of the five books of Moses and in a wider sense the books of the Tanach, further still it covers all the writings of Scripture. However, in the context of Isaiah it must by an historical contextual definition constitute the books of Moses alone, the written Instruction of Hashem, and the literal Torah. This writing of God’s word can be described by the Hebrew ketvi (Literally written).
Isaiah then writes “and D’var the Word of HaShem from Yerushalayim”. Here he links the living Word (D’var: Yeshua) of God to the written word (ketvi: Torah). In fact, the living Word Yeshua is both the Author and the goal of the Torah (Romans 10:4).
We note that if we read the text according to the meaning contained in the names used, we see a remez (hint) of something deeper:
“For out of a parched land will go forth the Instruction and the living person of God’s word from a downpour of peace”.
The written word (Torah: Ha-ketvi) is seeded into a parched sin affected land and goes out to expose the sin of humanity. The Living Word Yeshua (D’var), having been resurrected from the parched land, brings a downpour of peace upon those who had been slaves to the fear of death (the result of sin), and offers to all humanity God’s redemptive solution to the sin that the Torah has exposed. Therefore, the Torah both exposes sin and points to the solution for sin.
2:4 And He shall judge between the nations (ha-goyiym), and shall hochiyach prove, judge, correct, arbitrate between many peoples (l’amiym): and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning knives: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any longer.
“Beat your plowshares into swords
and your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weakling say,
‘I am strong!’” –Joel 3:10 (NIV)
“‘And he shall judge’. He, who is the judge, the Messiah, shall judge” –Ibn Ezra
The opening phrasing alludes to the arbitration carried out by the Messiah during the Messianic age (Thousand Year Reign) prior to the second resurrection. Following the second resurrection (Rev. 20:11-15) and the inception of the Olam Haba (World to come) there will no longer be any need for arbitration because the Olam Haba will be devoid of sin and its consequences.
The Messianic age will be marked by the repentance of nations and the transforming of all weapons of war into tools for the prospering of humanity. This will be made possible through the return and reign of the Messiah (Psalm 72).
There has yet to be any period in history where these things have happened. Therefore, Isaiah is speaking of a latter period of human history that is still yet to come. This is a clue to the reader as to the chronological method by which the Messiah will fulfil His mandate.
2:5 House of Yaakov (Follower), come you, and let us walk in the b’or light (Gen. 1:3) of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy).
Isaiah has previously referred to the mountain house of Hashem. He now challenges Israel to get her house in order by turning toward the light (Or) of HaShem. The light being referred to predates the creation of the heavenly lights (Gen. 1:3). This light (Or), like the Word (D’var) of Hashem, is a manifestation of the Spirit and the countenance of the Torah, both predating it and shining forth from it.
Isaiah includes himself in this rebuke, by using the plural “us” in the same way Moses did when he prayed, “forgive our iniquity” (Exodus 34:9). “I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”(Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah’s identification with the house of Jacob is a mark of the true prophet of Hashem. Those prophets who accuse and condemn Israel without identifying with her, becoming heartbroken over her sin and walking in her suffering, are not prophets of God, but enemies of both God and Israel. Let this be a warning to those so called Christians who point their fingers in accusation at the modern state of Israel without lifting a finger to aid and encourage her in her suffering. Who are you to discipline another Father’s child?
The meaning of this verse is further illuminated by the meanings of the names used:
“All you who are descended from the follower, come and let us walk in the light of Mercy.”
It is not by chance that Abraham had come from Ur (Or: light). Thus Isaiah calls Israel to return to the faith of her father Abraham.
2:6 Therefore, You (Hashem) have natashtah cast off Your people the house of Yaakov (Follower), because they are filled up from the east, and are soothsayers like the P’lishtiym (Immigrants, Philistines), and in my children, foreigners are satisfied.
The “Therefore” means, because of the promise of Israel’s redemption and restoration at the end of days, and because she have been given the light of Hashem to follow, and because she has been called to send forth the Torah from Zion, but has shown no intention of returning to Hashem and honouring her calling: You (Hashem) have cast off Your people.
Natashtah, often translated “left, forsaken, rejected” is better translated “Cast off”. Israel has not been utterly forsaken or left, rather, like a garment she has been temporarily cast off for the sake of the nations (Romans 11:11).
“Filled from the East” is an allusion to idolatrous practices and supplies from the nations East of Israel. Not only has Israel introduced pagan worship practices, she has also become reliant on the produce of foreigners rather than relying on God for her provision.
The last clause “And in my children foreigners are satisfied” can be understood to mean that the foreigners are satisfied with Israel’s syncretistic idolatry and the adoption of foreign practices, or, it could be a much darker euphemistic saying referring to child sexual abuse.
It is profoundly significant that Israel is likened to the Philistines, whose name literally means “Immigrants”. The prophet is saying that Israel to whom God had promised the land have effectively (though temporarily) become immigrants in the land because God intends to punish them through dispersion into foreign lands if they do not repent from their idolatry.
In fact, verse 6 begins a list of key steps in Israel’s regression. The first of which is 1.) Idolatry, that is, trusting in other gods.
2:7 And their land is full of kesef silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is full of horses, and there is no end to their mark’botayu (merkabah) chariots:
The second step in Israel’s regression is 2.) Greed, that is, trusting in temporary earthly wealth (Also a form of idolatry).
The third step is 3.) Military Prowess, that is, trusting in her own military strength for deliverance (Also a form of idolatry).
2:8 And their land is full of eliyliym idols; the work (idols) of their own hands they bow down to, that which they have fashioned with their fingers:
The list of regression comes full circle back to step one, Idolatry.
“Eliyliym ‘Idols’. Root Al ‘not’; the idols are called by this name, because there is no reality in them.” –Ibn Ezra
Israel’s severe lack of logic and irony of practice is laid bare by Isaiah as he observes the fingers of the hands that made the idols extending from palms which are face down on the ground in worship of the idols they have formed. There is a spiritual blindness that enters the mind of the wilful sinner. A blindness that prevents even basic logical observations.
“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them due to the hardness of their heart. Since they are past feeling, they have turned themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of immorality, with greed for more.” –Ephesians 4:18-19 (TLV)
2:9 And bow down adam humanity, and be humbled iysh man: therefore don’t tisa lift, carry or bear them up.
The prophet emphasizes the degradation of Israel and humanity in general, both corporate and individual:
“Adam (humanity) go ahead, bow down to your idols, and each of you as individuals, go ahead, make yourselves look foolish, humiliate yourselves in worship of false gods: therefore Hashem, don’t lift them out of the quagmire of their own idolatrous stupidity, don’t bear the weight of their rejection any longer!”
Yarchi interprets adam to mean “Men of low stature” and iysh as being “Men of high stature”. Thus the sin of idolatry has permeated every echelon of society.
2:10 Enter the rock, and conceal yourself in the dry earth, before the face of the terror (1a#) of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and because of the glory of His majesty.
This warning is similar to the warnings of Yeshua’s revelation to Yochanan (Rev. 6:15).
2:11 The lofty (arrogant) eyes (looking down) of adam humanity will become bowed down, along with the haughtiness of anashiym men, and the v’nisgav inaccessibly high Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) alone shall be exalted in that day (2a#).
The idolatrous pride of humanity will be brought low along with the individual pride of every rebellious person. While Hashem, Who is above and outside all things will be the honoured as God alone.
“Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) will be king over the whole earth. On that day will Hashem be echad (one), and his name the echad (one).” –Zechariah 14:9
2:12 Kiy yom For a day of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) Tz’vaot Who goes forth in war (of hosts) will be upon all who are proud and lofty, and upon all who are lifted up (in their own eyes) in order to be brought low:
It is worth noting that the opening phrase says “For a day” rather than “On the day”. This day is described as coming against and falling upon the proud and all who have lifted themselves up in rebellion toward God. The prophet is repeating the promise that the wicked will be brought low because it has been firmly established by Hashem.
2:13 And upon all the cedars of Levanon (Witness), that arise and are lifted up, and upon all the oaks of ha-Bashan the fruitful, 2:14 And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 2:15 And upon every high tower, and upon every fortified wall, 2:16 And upon all the ships of Tarshish (Yellow jasper [Cyprus, Spain]), and upon all objects of desire.
The same day of the Lord will come upon the pride of Israel’s neighbours and upon all the high places of the earth where false gods have been worshipped. God’s wrath will also be poured out on the objects of humanity’s rebellion and pride, such as their skyscrapers and fortifications. All that humanity has trusted in to secure her delusion of invincibility will be destroyed and brought low.
Tarshish, Tarseus or Carthage, was a city at the western end of the Mediterranean and is a metaphor for ocean going traders. This day of the Lord’s wrath will be made manifest in a way that will shake the entire earth.
2:17 And bowed down will be the loftiness of ha-adam the man, and brought low will be the haughtiness of anashiym men: and the v’nisgav inaccessibly high Hashem (YHVH: Mercy) alone shall be exalted in that day (2b#). 2:18 And ha-eliyliym the idols in their entirety He will utterly cut off.
Ha-adam refers to rebellious humanity, whereas anashiym refers to every individual who continues to rebel against God. Once again the unique singular identity of Hashem will be given due honour and He alone will be worshipped as echad (One). Prior to this the idols of this fallen world will be utterly wiped out, cut off, neither to be seen nor heard of again.
2:19 And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of dry earth, before the face of the terror (1b#) of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and because of the glory of His majesty, when He will arise to shake and terrify the earth.
Isaiah establishes the plight of the idolatrous (Isaiah 2:10). Firmly established by Hashem.
"when he shall be revealed, to break in pieces the wicked of the earth;'' –Targum
2:20 In that day ha-hu he (him) shall cast ha-adam the man’s idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to bow down to, to the moles and to the bats;
Reference to the moles and bats is a figurative way to denote darkness, isolation and punishment.
2:21 To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, before the face of the terror (1c#) of Hashem (YHVH: Mercy), and because of the glory of His majesty, when He will arise to shake and terrify the earth.
For the third time the plight of the wicked is pictured as a hiding in terror. If twice is firmly established, three times is irrevocably certain. In an age when punishment is frowned upon by the morally liberal, these words of Isaiah penetrate and dissipate the politically correct smokescreen of lies that offers forgiveness to the unrepentant. Wrath is certain and it will be the end of all those who pursue it.
2:22 Cease him (Him) from ha-adam the man, whose n’shmah breath is in his nostrils (Gen. 2:7): for what nechshav is he thinking, inventing, planning, imagining?
In other words, “Don’t place your trust in fallen humanity. For we received our life breath (ruach) from an intimate creative act of HaShem, but have none the less rejected the One who gave us life and have instead pursued our own imagined deity”.
"for he is alive today, and tomorrow he is not, and he is to be accounted as nothing;'' –Targum (Isaiah 2:22)
© Yaakov Brown 2017
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,